Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Veerappa Moily today attacked the oil and gas companies, alleging that every oil minister is threatened by import lobbies.
"India is floating on huge reserves of oil and gas which are not explored for the benefit and profit of oil import lobbies," the Oil minister told reporters.
Moily, who has been under attack from the CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta for proposing to hike natural gas prices by 60 per cent, said he has been striving to attract investments in almost stagnant oil and gas exploration which will lead to higher domestic output and lesser reliance on imports.
"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 is bureaucratic obstructions and delays.
"And also there are other lobbies. They don't want us to stop imports. There are some lobbies who are working on that. Every minister is threatened many a times. Every minister who
occupies this position is threatened," he told reporters.
Moily however refused to name anyone or identify anyone who may have directly or indirectly threatened ministers. "History will speak about it. It is for you to judge," he said, adding oil imports will rise dramatically if domestic production is not incentivised through right pricing policy.
"This (increase in oil imports) will work to the detriment of the country. We are challenged by the vagaries of international price," he said. The revision in natural gas prices was aimed at reviving
investor confidence and attracting investments, he added.
"For the last 4-5 years, investor sentiments is not that high... We have to give right price, otherwise nobody will come. One well (in the ultra deepsea) may sometime cost in millions of dollars," he said.
Moily said he has proposed to the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) the raising of domestic gas prices from current USD 4.2 per million British thermal unit to USD 6.775.
Moily said he will not be cowed down by any lobby and will continue to work for any India energy independent by 2030. "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 decision making process in the oil sector will be prevented they are totally wrong," he said.
Earlier in an interview to Times of India, Moily came out all guns blazing against those opposing the government's move to put in place a new pricing regime for natural gas produced from domestic fields.
"The opposition is mainly coming from the import lobby. I don't know whether crude or liquid gas import lobby. But it's a powerful lobby. These people know that if the situation remains as it is, our imports would go up and they would stand to gain," he said.
Reacting to Moily's comments, BJP leader and former oil minister Ram Naik said that Moily must name the lobby which is threatening him. "Moily ji should reveal which lobby is threatening him. I have never come across anything like this in my tenure."
With inputs from PTI