Blair intervenes for Premier over Ratna

Vol 10, PW 17 (14 Dec 06) News in Brief

UK premier Tony Blair has intervened with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to speed up negotiations on the Ratna oilfield.

PETROWATCH learns Blair wrote to Singh shortly after the Indian premier ended his UK visit in October. Premier managed to get Ratna on the agenda of talks between Blair and Singh during his visit, adds a source.

Help also came from UK High Commissioner in Delhi Sir Michael Arthur and Indian commerce minister Kamal Nath. Ratna and the R Series of oilfields offshore Mumbai were awarded to Premier Oil (10%), Essar Oil (50%) and ONGC (40%) in 1996 but efforts to sign a PSC have been blocked by years of bureaucratic inertia, opposition from ONGC and protracted legal wrangling.

Premier is confident that Blairs intervention will pave the way for a formal contract signing. All issues with ONGC have been resolved, says a source.

Were preparing a MoU by the end of this month and hope to sign the PSC after.

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