India gives reprieve to Russian firm for delay in gas explorationJanuary 9th, 2010 - 4:41 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Jan 9 (IANS) India Saturday approved a proposal from Russia’s largest refiner Gazprom to complete the hydrocarbon exploration work it had committed with the state-run gas company GAIL in the first round of auctions under a new policy.
A meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, presided over by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, approved the company’s work programme with an 18-months extension, as also a penalty to be paid in kind for the damages caused by the delay.
The hydrocarbon block in the north was in partnership with GAIL, which later exited leaving 100 percent ownership to the Russian firm. The first round of auctions under the new exploration licencing policy had started in January 1999.
“There is no financial expenditure involved on behalf of the government. The contractor has commitment to carry out exploration work programme which may lead to discoveries of hydrocarbons,” an official said after the meeting of the cabinet.
The petroleum ministry had earlier approached the government to approve the payment of damages by the Russian company in kind, rather than cash, towards incomplete work and delays in exploring. It also sought more time for Gazprom to complete the work.
The Russian firm had run into trouble with India’s exploration regulator, the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons, for taking survey data, considered sensitive, to Russia without prior permission of the Indian government.
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