Import lobbies derailing India’s oil exploration: Minister

New Delhi, June 14 (IANS) Petroleum Minister M. Veerappa Moily Friday claimed that India’s energy exploration activities are being derailed by “threats” to ministers from the import lobbies, which want the country to remain dependent on oil and gas imports, and “bureaucratic obstructions”.

“Every minister who is occupying this (petroleum) position is threatened. There is bureaucratic delay and obstructions and also other lobbies that don’t want us to stop imports,” Moily told media persons here.

However, “Moily cannot be threatened”, said the minister.

He said the country is “floating on a sea of oil and gas and we’re not exploring it” because of the “threats and obstructions”.

Data show that after 9 rounds of activity under the government’s New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP), about 80 percent area is yet to be explored extensively.

If the import continued in the current manner, the country was staring in the face of importing nearly 100 percent of its oil and gas requirements, said Moily.

“The decision making process is obstructed, aborted, while this work of the import lobbies will work out to the detriment of the country. All our earnings are going out (for oil imports). This cannot go on, it has to come to a stop,” Moily said.

Pointing out that low investor sentiment in the last 4-5 years has been a dampener for increased exploration activity, Moily underlined the need for properly compensating producers.

“We have to give the right price (contractual)”, the petroleum minister said.

He said that such high level of import dependence meant that the country was always challenged by the vagaries of international prices, compounded by factors like rupee depreciation against the dollar.

Moily said he has proposed to the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) to increase domestically produced gas prices from current $4.2 per million British thermal unit to $6.7 mbtu.

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