Virtually dismissing the accusation that Mukesh Ambani owned Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) was stalling audit of KG D6 block by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister, Veerappa Moily on Friday said there was no problem in the audit and everybody was cooperating.
Asking about the complaint by the CAG to the Petroleum Secretary, Vivek Rae that RIL was not cooperating in the audit exercise and was creating hurdles by not providing the required financial statement and access to records, Mr. Moily retorted: ``I don’t know. That I must find out. We are getting cooperation from everybody. There is no problem at all. The question is we should not destroy them, then you get destroyed yourself, I am telling you. This is what is going to happen. If you destroy somebody, you get destroyed yourself,’’ he remarked. The Hindu was the first to report on July 18 that CAG had complained to the Petroleum Ministry about RIL not cooperating in the audit.
In fact, at the time when Mr. Moily was asserting that all was well and everybody was cooperating, sources in the CAG office told The Hindu on Friday said that despite repeated reminders and assertions by the Petroleum Ministry that all was well, the CAG had not got any answers to nearly 28 requests it had made for smoothly carrying out the audit exercise from 2008-09 to 2011-12.
The Principal Director of Audit (Economic and Service Ministries), A.M. Bajaj in his letter to Mr. Rae, has sought his intervention, and pointed out the difficulties being faced by the CAG audit team conducting the audit of records of block KG-DWN-98/3 at the operator premises in Navi Mumbai, in getting prompt replies, information and documents. "The audit team has issued 96 audit requisitions (AR) calling information/records for verification of charges and credits in respect of high value contract/purchase orders awarded during 2008-09 to 2011-12, payments made in respect of contracts pertaining to previous years and relating to other issues," Mr. Bajaj has stated in his July 3 letter.
RIL on the other hand has maintained that CAG had sought massive information dating back to 2002-03 and it always takes time to provide the relevant records. ``We want public sector to be involved in exploration and production of oil and gas. We want private to be involved. But nothing should be done by breaking the rules or regulation. That we will safeguard. National interest will be safeguarded,’’ Mr. Moily added.
At the request of the Petroleum Ministry last year, CAG is auditing KG-D6 spending for 2008-09 to 2011-12. It restarted the audit in April after issues like scope and extent of its scrutiny were resolved. RIL had objected to the performance audit being carried out by CAG. However, CAG had stated that it is not planning to a do a performance audit of the company but only wants to examine propriety of expenses made. For doing that CAG has been given the discretion of requisitioning records as it deems fit.
He said India's natural gas production is expected to jump by over 66 per cent to 175 million standard cubic meters per day by 2016-17 as RIL and other firms will boost output on the back of higher prices. ``Gas production will rise from 105 mmcmd in 2013-14 to 129 mmscmd in 2014-15, 139 mmscmd in 2015-16 and to 175 mmscmd in 2016-17,’’ he claimed.
He said RIL's currently producing fields in eastern offshore KG-D6 block will see output dip from 18.7 mmscmd in current year to 17.4 in 2014-15 and 15.02 mmscmd in the next year but will start to rise from 2016-17 when newer fields in the block are brought to production. State-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) is expected to produce 29 mmscmd from neighbouring KG-DWN-98/2 or KG-D5
block from 2016-17. Also, Gujarat State Petroleum Corp (GPSC) will hit a peak of 5.24 mmscmd output from its KG-OSN-2001/3 block in KG Basin that year, he said.