Govt rejects RIL demand for gas price revision
The Ministry on January 30 wrote to RIL quoting from the May 7, 2010, Supreme Court judgement in the gas row between the company and Anil Ambani's RNRL to assert that "any price revision proposal will be examined by the government after expiry of five years from commencement of supply."
While RIL had in its submission to the Supreme Court in the gas supply row with RNRL stated that it was merely a contractor who is bound by government decision on price and sale of gas, the company on January 6 wrote to the Ministry seeking revision of "discriminatory" and "sub-market" price.
The Ministry, however, rebutted RIL charge saying the company had vide letter dated October 24, 2007 confirmed acceptance to gas pricing formula and its tenure as had been approved by the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM).
The EGoM, headed by the then External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, had on September 12, 2007 approved a price of USD 4.205 per million British thermal unit for gas produced from KG-DWN-98/3 or KG-D6 block for a period of five years.
RIL started gas production from the block in April 2009 and thus price revision was due only in 2014.
Justice K G Balakrishnan (then Chief Justice) and Justice P Sathasivam had in the 2010 judgement held that "through the contractor (RIL) has the marketing freedom to sell the product from the contract area to other consumers, this freedom is not absolute. The price at which the produce will be sold to consumers would be subject to the Government's approval."
The Supreme Court, the ministry, said noted that the EGoM had already set the price of gas and parties must abide by this and other conditions placed by the government policy.
Justice B Sudhershan Reddy, the third judge of the three-member bench of the Supreme Court that decided on the RIL-RNRL case, stated that "the EGoM decisions regarding the utilisation of the natural gas and the price formula/basis etc do not suffer from any legal or constitutional infirmities...
The parties are bound by the governmental policy and approvals regarding price, quantity and tenure for supply of gas."
Stating that the current price of gas was no longer viable, RIL had in the January 6 given the government 90 days to reach an "amicable settlement" over the pricing of gas.
Under the dispute resolution process detailed in the Production Sharing Contract, parties are required to try for reconciliation of differences for three months before heading for arbitration. RIL may be thinking of arbitration on the issue.