Citizens' Issues
Centre not co-operating in complaint against websites: Court

A Delhi court made the observation after repeated failure of a Home Ministry official to appear before it in response to complaint filed against 21 websites for allegedly committing offences

 

New Delhi: The Centre is 'not co-operating' in its proceedings against various US-based websites, including Facebook and Google, accused of promoting class enmity and undermining national integrity, a Delhi court said on Wednesday, reports PTI.

Metropolitan Magistrate Jay Thareja made the observation after repeated failure of a Union Home Ministry (MHA) official to appear before it in response to complaint filed against 21 websites for allegedly committing offences, including those of selling obscene materials to youths and hatching criminal conspiracy.

"I am getting the impression that the Government of India is not co-operating in this matter. The man (MHA official) has not yet come. I have called him several times but he is not coming," the court observed.

During the hearing, advocate Siddharth Aggarwal, who is representing one of the websites, said the court's impression that the Centre is not co-operating in the matter is "wrong" as the government had earlier given the sanction to prosecute these social networking websites.

The magistrate, however, told the defence counsel saying, "the time when sanction was given, the IAC (India against Corruption) movement was going on."

The defence counsel, however, countered the court's observation saying the government's sanction order had nothing to do with the IAC stir.

The court, meanwhile, issued a notice to the MHA's Under Secretary Amar Chand, who had failed to appear before it today, and posted the matter for hearing on 21st December.

The court had earlier directed MHA to verify the filled-up forms for service of summonses to the US-based websites after complainant's counsel SPM Tripathi gave it the forms, required to be filled under an Indo-US treaty for service of summonses.

The court had earlier told the MHA to check the forms submitted by the complainant and apprise it by today if the forms have been filled up as per the prescribed norms of the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty between the two countries.

Amar Chand had earlier told the court to start extradition proceedings to secure the presence of the websites based abroad and had referred to the MLAT between the US and India saying instead of issuing summonses against them, it should initiate extradition proceedings.

The court, however, had said it would not initiate the extradition proceedings and had asked the official to assist the complainant's counsel in filling the forms for service of summonses.

The websites named in the complaint include Facebook, Orkut, YouTube, Yahoo, Blogspot, Google and Microsoft.

The court earlier on June 8 had directed the Union Home ministry to get the summonses served to various US-based websites.

The Centre had earlier told the court that there was sufficient material to proceed against the websites for the alleged offences.

The court had on 23rd December last year issued summons to 21 social networking websites on the complaint.

 

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RIL sells its 25% stake in Yemen oil block to Medco Energi for $90 million

After the exit from Kurdistan and Yemen, RIL now is left with a portfolio of 10 overseas oil and gas assets including two each in Peru, Yemen, Oman and Colombia and one each in East Timor and Australia

New Delhi: Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) on Wednesday said it has completed sale of its 25% stake in an oil block in Yemen to Indonesia's Medco Energi for about $90 million, reports PTI.

 

RIL's Dubai-based subsidiary Reliance Exploration & Production DMCC "signed the completion documents for divestment of its 25% working interest in the Yemen's Block-9 to Medco Yemen Malik Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of PT Medco Energi Internasional Tbk of Indonesia," the company said in a statement.

 

The company had announced the sale of its stake in the oil producing block in August. The stake sale followed RIL exiting from two oil blocks in Kurdistan region of Iraq on 19th July.

 

RIL had in 2001 won Yemen's Block 9 along with Hood Energy and Calvalley Petroleum Inc. RIL and Hood Energy held 25% stake each while Calvalley had the remaining 50%.

 

RIL said the sale agreement with Medco would be effective from 1st January.

 

While the agreement is for a 25% interest, Medco would effectively have a 21.25% participating interest in the block because, under a regulation in Yemen, the contractor of a production-sharing agreement has to accommodate a working interest for the country, which is represented by the Yemen Oil and Gas Company, which will hold a 15% stake.

 

Accordingly, the operator Calvalley Petroleum would have 42.5% interest and Hood Oil 21.25% stake.

 

Block 9 lies covers 2,234 square kilometres in the Sayun- Masila basin in Yemen's Hadramaut province, about 350-km north-east of the Yemeni capital, Sana. It is estimated to hold proven plus probable reserves of 58.6 million barrels of oil.

 

RIL would get another $5 million if the block produces 10,000 barrels of oil per day. The block currently produces between 6,000 bpd and 6,500 bpd.

 

A 20 year construction contract was granted over the block by the Yemeni government in 2005 which the joint venture can apply to have extended for a further five years after 2025.

 

After the sale, RIL is left with interest in block 34 and 37 in eastern Yemen where it is investing $66 million with its patner Hood.

 

RIL had in July sold its 80% interest in Rovi and Sarta onland blocks in northern Iraq to US oil behemoth Chevron Corp for a reported $200 million.

 

The exits are part of the company's overseas asset restructuring wherein it is cutting exposure in exploration blocks to focus on producing properties.

 

After the exit from Kurdistan and Yemen, RIL now is left with a portfolio of 10 overseas oil and gas assets including two each in Peru, Yemen, Oman and Colombia and one each in East Timor and Australia.

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LNG imports to surpass domestic production in next two years

In current fiscal, LNG imports will jump to 73 mmscmd and are projected to further rise to 105 mmscmd in 2013-14, equalling the domestic gas production in India

 
New Delhi: India's import of natural gas will surpass domestic production in two years as output from fields like Reliance Industries' Krishna Godavari (KG)-D6 field stagnates, reports PTI.
 
The country's imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG), which costs three times the price of domestic gas, is projected to rise exponentially over the next two-three years, according to latest projections made by the Oil Ministry.
 
Imports of LNG or natural gas - cooled to its liquid form for ease of transporting in ships - at 39.32 million standard cubic meters a day constituted 25.5% of the total consumption of the fuel in India in 2011-12. This share will rise to 41% in current fiscal and to 50% in the next, the ministry's projections showed.
 
In 2012-13, domestic natural gas production is estimated to be around 104 mmscmd, down from 114.90 mmscmd in the previous fiscal primarily because KG-D6 output has slipped to 23 mmscmd from over 30 mmscmd last year.
 
In current fiscal, LNG imports will jump to 73 mmscmd and are projected to further rise to 105 mmscmd in 2013-14, equalling the domestic gas production of that year.
 
In 2014-15, imports at 115 mmscmd will surpass domestic production of 113 mmscmd, the ministry estimates said.
 
For a nation whose current account deficit is already battered by 79% reliance on imports for meeting oil needs, higher share of LNG is not be a good news.
 
Industry officials said the domestic output has stagnated in absence of remunerative prices.
 
UK's BP Plc, which partners RIL in the flagging KG-D6 gas block and other gas discovery areas, recently wrote to Oil Minister M Veerappa Moily saying around five trillion cubic feet of discoveries in KG-D6 and NEC-25 block in Mahanadi basin can be developed on price clarity.
 
The reserves RIL-BP has are more than the remaining resource in state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp's fields.
 
Majority of domestic natural gas is priced at $4.2 per million British thermal unit which is one-third the price at which LNG is imported by Petronet LNG Ltd and other firms.
 
The government has been resisting revising the domestic prices fearing its impact on power tariffs and fertiliser cost even as KG-D6 output has plummeted to less than half to 24 mmscmd.
 
Industry officials said that the world over countries have raised price for domestic produce.
 
Last week, Argentina trippled wellhead price for new natural gas production to $7.50 per mmBtu. The South American nation too imported LNG at up to $15 per mmBtu rate, quite similar to the position in India.
 
Neighbouring Pakistan too has announced a new exploration policy giving price of $7 for shallow water finds, $8 for deepsea discoveries and $9 for ultradeep exploration.
 
China too has offered subsidises to energy companies who develop the nation's shale-gas resources.
 

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