The company said the original intent of the draft shale gas policy to give right of first refusal to all operators, irrespective of where the blocks were awarded pre-NELP or in NELP, should be restored as it was “fair and reasonable”
Oil and gas exploration major Cairn India has asked the oil ministry for rights to explore for unconventional shale gas in its prolific Rajasthan block.
The oil ministry's draft policy for exploration of shale gas provides for giving operators of block awarded under New Exploration Policy (NELP) since 2000, the first right of refusal for exploiting the unconventional resource. It, however, does not confer the same rights to operators of pre-NELP blocks like Rajasthan.
“We believe that the draft shale gas policy which solicited public comments in August 2012 was forward looking when it stated that ‘of first refusal will be offered to the existing contractors’. However, the discrimination between NELP and pre-NELP blocks (in the draft policy now prepared) will defeat the purpose,” Cairn CEO P Elango wrote to the oil secretary on 24th May.
Shale gas or natural gas trapped in sedimentary rocks (shale formations) below the earth’s surface, is the new focus area in the US, Canada and China, as an alternative to conventional oil and gas for meeting growing energy needs.
As per the available data, six basins—Cambay (in Gujarat), Assam-Arakan (in the North-East), Gondawana (in central India), KG onshore (in Andhra Pradesh), Cauvery onshore and Indo Gangatic basins—hold shale gas potential. Rajasthan block too may hold shale gas potential.
The draft shale gas policy being prepared by the government has a mechanism to give the first right of refusal to existing contractors holding oil and gas blocks. However, this first right of refusal may be accorded to only NELP blocks.
Cairn demanded that the “first right of refusal should be available to all currently operating blocks, irrespective of pre-NELP or NELP, to ensure consistency and uniform implementation of the shale gas policy.”
“Existing licences/leases should have the exclusive rights to explore for and develop all hydrocarbon resources encountered in a block and/or shale, which is just another form of hydrocarbon resource,” Elango wrote.
The company said the original intent of the draft shale gas policy to give right of first refusal to all operators, irrespective of where the blocks were awarded pre-NELP or in NELP, should be restored as it was “fair and reasonable”.
“Overlapping licenses/leases with simultaneous operations will pose significant health, safety and environment (HSE) risks and operational conflicts, leading to conflicting claims to resource ownership, sub optimal utilisation of capital, hampering development of hydrocarbon molecules present in multiple forms,” he added.
Auto Taking You for a Ride? It’s Abduction!
A recent news article carried yet another horror story of auto-rickshaw-driver-terror. A woman and child insisted on being ferried home and got into the vehicle. To teach the duo a lesson, the driver took them on a long detour, scaring them and adding to their agony. The ordeal ended with the passengers reaching their destination at long last and the driver being mildly penalised and allowed to go. The issues here are: Was the driver entitled to create panic? Was the fact that the passengers were safe at the end, a compensating factor? Was his ‘punishment’ adequate or appropriate? Were the police complicit in letting the abductor go? Should they be punished as well? You be the judge.
We believe that this was nothing short of abduction, unlawful restraint and terrorising. The penalty—imprisonment—can be as long as seven years, (Sectio 362+ of the IPC). The cops aided and abetted through dereliction of duty and filing incomplete reports, violating the Police Act. Now, you be the judge.
Currency Notes from Chemicals?
A woman walks into a police station with a complaint. She has, she claims, been cheated of Rs25 lakh and she wants her money back. She wants the police to help her. What is her story? The interesting part begins here.
The woman is a doctor and one does not become a doctor without some intelligence. How then was she duped? The good doctor met three conmen who had some ‘special’ chemicals that could produce duplicate currency notes, no less. Yes, the same notes that we normal, unlucky humans work our butts off to buy the next square meal! The lucky doctor had visions of minting money—literally. All she needed to do was pay ‘just 25 lakh rupees’ to this alchemist, which she promptly did. After all, opportunity never knocks twice. However, the three conmen kept on stringing her along for months when the doctor realised it was a con. Should the police register this complaint? Should they follow it up? Must an FIR be lodged? You be the judge.
The problem revolves around the law relating to contracts in India. An important point to be noted is that no one can enter into a contract that is illegal in the eyes of the law. One cannot agree to a contract to steal from a third person. Or to make life miserable for someone. Even trying to break up a marriage is illegal. So, if one asks someone else to create friction between a husband and wife, it is breaking the law. Simply put, two or more people cannot agree to do something, in other words enter into a contract, to carry out an illegality. The contract is void Ab initio, meaning from the start.
Now, the doctor enters into a contract with the ‘chemical specialist’ and pays him a sum of money, called ‘consideration’. The contract is complete. But printing money, or trying to print it, is a serious offence; even if the equipment did not work. The intention of duplicating money is attempted forgery of the highest degree. The very act of trying to do so is punishable. The term is up to seven years plus a fine. So does one go to the police and complain that she was duped in a patently criminal process? Well, the cops should have arrested the doctor for a crime. The police are guilty of dereliction of duty. They, too, should be asked to explain their conduct rather than everyone laughing it away. What you do think? You be the judge. Write to us.
A New Column on Real-Life Legal Situations
Laws that govern our rights, life and liberty are complicated. We become aware of them only when we have a brush with them. One way to increase our awareness of the various laws is by discussing real-life cases. This is exactly what Bapoo Malcolm, a conscientious practising lawyer in Mumbai, will do—beginning with this issue. We invite readers to share their thoughts on each of the items because, as Bapoo says, “You be the Judge”. Email us at [email protected] or [email protected] – Editor