Special Correspondent

Government's right to fix gas price stands

RIL had bid for NTPC tender at $2.34 mBtu

NEW DELHI: Welcoming the Supreme Court verdict on the Ambani brother's gas dispute that the natural gas belongs to the nation thereby upholding the Government stand on the issue, Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Murli Deora on Friday said his Ministry's stand had been vindicated.

Talking to newsmen after the apex court delivered the judgment on the matter, Mr. Deora said the Supreme Court had upheld the government's right to fix price of gas and decide its utilization. “Apex court verdict upholds the fact that gas belongs to the government and the people of the country and that is what we have been saying,” he said. The court through the 2-1 verdict had maintained that the Ambani family MoU seeking to divide gas between Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) and Reliance Natural Resources Limited (RNRL) was not binding, both legally and technically.

“I welcome the verdict. No matter what campaign one ran against the government, the nation is supreme,” he said without naming the Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group or its Chairman Anil Ambani.

The Government had moved the Supreme Court asserting its sovereign right on gas pricing and utilisation.

Union Power Minister Sushilkumar Shinde termed the Supreme Court verdict as “fair decision” and said that it would have no bearing on the ongoing dispute State-run NTPC and RIL.


“It has nothing to do with RIL-NTPC case,” he said shortly after the judgment came. RIL had in 2004 bid for an NTPC tender to supply 12 million standard cubic meters per day (mscmd) of gas to the State utility at $2.34 per mBtu (million British thermal unit).

However, the contract could not be concluded over differences on terms. The NTPC has dragged RIL to Bombay High Court seeking performance of the contract.

Mr. Shinde said the verdict had nothing to do with NTPC's dispute with RIL.

“It has nothing to do with my case of NTPC against RIL. No reference has been made on the dispute in the court judgment,” he added.

He also declined to comment on the supply dispute between RIL and RNRL, saying it was a matter between two brothers.

Mr. Shinde acknowledged: “I was part and parcel of the ministerial panels that first approved $4.20 per mBtu price of RIL's KG-D6 gas, fixed priority and users of the fuel and then decided to appeal against the Bombay High Court decision,” he said.