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News updated at 7:20 PM IST

Lobbies threaten oil ministers, says Moily

New Delhi, Jun 14, 2013, DHNS: 1:24 IST
M. Veerappa Moily
In an embarrassment to the UPA government, Petroleum Minister Veerappa Moily on Friday told reporters that every oil minister was threatened by the import lobby which obstructs decision making process for its own benefit. Moily’s remark evoked sharp reaction from the opposition parties, who dared him to come out with names.

“Every minister who occupies this position is threatened by the import lobby. The decision making power, the decision making process, are obstructed and aborted. And also there are other lobbies. They don’t want us to stop imports. There are some lobbies who are working on that. But, I cannot be threatened,” Moily said.

Reacting to Moily’s comment, BJP leader and former oil minister Ram Naik said he must spell out names. “Moily should reveal which lobby is threatening him. I have never came across anything like this during my tenure.”

The Left also hit out at Moily. CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta said: “Moily is a first class liar working for big corporates of the country. Moily should go to court.”Moily, however, refused to spell out names or identify anyone who might have directly or indirectly threatened ministers.

Moily, however, refused to spell out names or identify anyone who might have directly or indirectly threatened ministers.

“History will speak about it. It is for you to judge,” he said, adding that oil import would rise dramatically if domestic production was not incentivised through the right pricing policy.

Moily’s proposal for gas price revision by a whopping 60 per cent was earlier criticised by Dasgupta, who had alleged that the upward revision was purported to benefit private players like Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries.

“I am telling you with all sense of responsibility that we are floating in oil and gas in this country. And we don’t explore it. We put every obstruction not to do it. There are bureaucratic obstructions and delays. And there are other lobbies who do not want us to import.”

Moily said he had proposed to the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs to raise domestic gas price from the present $4.2 per million British thermal unit to $ 6.7.

“I am not helpless. Any timid minister will not go forward... I have come here to strive hard for the sake of the country, to work for the country. If anybody thinks that the decision making process in the oil sector will be prevented, they are totally wrong,” he said.

India imports close to 80 per cent of its oil needs. Moily said if the present trend continues, oil import could go well above 90 per cent in no time.

India’s energy demand is expected to more than double by 2035, from less than 700 million tonnes at present to around 1,500 mt, according to official estimates.

Domestic oil production has been almost flat over the years due to limited prospects, delays in commissioning of projects and declining production from the existing maturing fields.

Analysts said Moily’s comment on the oil import lobbies working against ramping up indigenous production has added a new dimension to it.

Domestic oil production has been almost flat over the years due to limited prospects, delays in commissioning of projects and declining production from the existing maturing fields.

Analysts said Moily’s comment on the oil import lobbies working against ramping up indigenous production has added a new dimension to it.

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