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Special audit for 20 oil block contracts
November, 29th 2007

Almost 20 oil and gas production sharing contracts (PSCs) signed under the New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP) I V and pre-NELP regime are being audited by the Comptroller and Accountant General of India (C&AG). This move gathers significance on the backdrop of the alleged inflated figures in budgets of some exploration companies before start of commercial production from the fields.

Official sources said, Those PSCs where Government stakes were huge were referred by the Petroleum Ministry to the C&AG to undertake special audit. Initially, the Ministry had referred about six PSCs including Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) D6 contract for special audit by C&AG. However, seeing the huge stakes involved, the C&AG has now decided to audit 20 contracts including those of GSPC and ONGC.

Sources said, that the Government auditor is likely examine the PSCs from the scratch and also look into their impact on Government share of profit (profit petroleum). The C&AG report is expected to be submitted by April 2008.

Exploration activity

Sources said this also shows that the exploration activity in India has moved to higher level that of production. Currently, the Petroleum Ministry has been getting the PSCs audited by reputed auditors. However, with recent allegations regarding some exploration companies inflating their capital expenditure, the Ministry had decided to approach the C&AG.

Incidentally, the Cabinet Secretary, Mr K.M. Chandrasekhar, in his report on gas pricing, had suggested better monitoring of capital expenditure plans of exploration companies.

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