Special Correspondent

New Petroleum Secretary assumes charge

NEW DELHI: The Union Government is likely to take a decision on hiking the price of natural gas produced by Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) and Oil India Ltd. (OIL) by almost 30 per cent within a few weeks, although power as well as chemical and fertilizer ministries have opposed any kind of hike.

This was disclosed by the newly appointed Petroleum Secretary, S. Sundareshan, during his interaction with newsmen here on Monday. The Petroleum Ministry has already circulated a Cabinet note for raising the gas price under the administered pricing mechanism (APM) from Rs.3,200 ($1.79 per million British thermal unit) to Rs. 4,142 per thousand cubic metres ($2.32 per mmBtu). The price of gas produced from the fields given to ONGC and OIL on a nomination basis is proposed to be raised in stages to Rs. 7,500 per thousand cubic metres or $4.2 per million British thermal unit by 2013.

Mr. Sundareshan said the government was weighing policy options to end differential pricing of natural gas that ranged from under $2 to $5.73 per mmBtu for gas produced by BG Group-operated Panna/Mukta and Tapti fields. The power and fertiliser ministries are understood to have expressed their opinion against any kind of hike in gas price but the Finance Ministry and the Planning Commission are backing the proposal.