The steep fall in the performance and drop in production of natural gas from the KG-D6 gas block off the Andhra coast has resulted in a loss of opportunities for the country, and is a matter of grave concern. Several chemical and power projects in Andhra Pradesh, which were implemented based on the estimated gas output from the basin, are now idling — causing loss of several thousand crores of rupees of investment. Reliance Industries has asked the government to increase the price of natural gas, which the government has refused. But this project should not be viewed as a failure of a private company, or as a mere sick project. In fact, this has caused a serious setback to the economic growth.
In this context, I do not believe that such a drastic fall in gas output within a few months of operation could happen in the normal course. In the present circumstances, the real facts are known only to the operator owing to the lack of access by the media or any other agency to scrutinise the facts. The matter has to be investigated carefully by technically competent agency.
In any case, serious steps need to be taken. The government should take over the KG-D6 gas block urgently from private promoters, who have expressed their inability to operate at the targeted level, and should invite international bidders. I believe a global tender would receive excellent response, and the government might be able to restore the KG-D6 gas block to the level of original expectations.
KG-D6 gas block is a national asset and the country should not be made to suffer owing to the failures of a private sector organisation, however big it may be.
N S Venkataraman Chennai
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