Moily hints at quick decisions in oil ministry

Admitting that Petroleum and Natural Gas Ministry is politically sensitive, new Minister M Veerappa Moily on Sunday said he could take quick decisions by removing obstacles.

“It is politically volatile and sensitive ministry, but if you strongly go in quest of solutions, perhaps obstacles will melt away,” Moily said soon after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh carried out the much-awaited reshuffle of his Cabinet. Though rumours flew earlier that Moily may get the Ministry of Power, the prime minister’s decision to allot the high-profile Petroleum portfolio surprised many.  

Moily replaced S Jaipal Reddy under whom the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas was accused of being indecisive and almost halting oil and gas exploration. Moily will formally take charge of the Ministry on Monday.

“I have always found in my administrative experience of 40 years that we need to have positive mind,” Moily said adding that: “As on today, (oil) demand is rising. So ultimately, it is energy security that has to be addressed. Delay will cost the nation and common people. We need to take decisions immediately.”

The Petroleum Ministry, which was scene of the nation’s biggest corporate battle a few years ago, had almost gone into limbo after Reddy took over in January 2011.

From delaying approval to India’s largest foreign direct investment (FDI) to being a reluctant party to fuel reforms, the ministry is accused of being regressive and negative towards the industry during the past 22 months.

Moily moves into the Oil Ministry from Ministry for Corporate Affairs. He also held additional charge of Ministry of Power since July-end when Sushil Kumar Shinde was elevated as home minister. Previously, Moliy had also held the portfolio of law.  

Tasks lined up

The first task by the Moily will be to clear the confusions surrounding the decision to cap supply of subsidised domestic cooking gas to six cylinders per household in a year.

Moily would also have to sort out the continued delays Reliance Industries and its British partner BP Plc face in getting investment and other approvals that are needed to revive fortunes at the flagging eastern offshore KG-D6 fields. Another bigger task at hand would be to resolve the KG-D6 gas pricing row. While RIL-BP have been seeking a market price, the oil ministry opposed it earlier.

Moily would also have to deal with the issue of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) doing a second round of audit of spending on KG-D6 fields in the face of stiff opposition from RIL which says that the official auditor does not have powers under Parliament enacted Act to audit private firms.

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