Govt pushes for dispute resolution panel to resolve oil, gas wrangles

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With an overhang of disputes choking investments within the oil and gas sector, the federal government is pushing for contractual wrangles being despatched to an knowledgeable committee for time-bound resolution however the transfer has discovered few takers due to inherent battle of curiosity in such a course of, sources mentioned. The authorities had in December final yr constituted a ‘Committee of External Eminent Persons/Experts’ comprising former oil secretary G C Chaturvedi, former Oil India Ltd head Bikash C Bora and Hindalco Industries Ltd Managing Director Satish Pai, for dispute resolution with out having to resort to the tardy judicial course of. But no main dispute has been referred to the panel to this point, two sources with direct information of the event mentioned.

The panel has not impressed a lot confidence in oil and gas firms as most of their disputes are with the federal government over contractual interpretations and procedural points. And the exact same authorities is not only deciding on how the dispute is to be resolved but additionally appointing members of the dispute resolution panel in addition to setting its phrases of reference, they mentioned.

There is an inherent battle of curiosity that has stored most disputes away from the committee, they mentioned.

India’s oil and gas sector has been affected by disputes from price restoration to manufacturing targets, and firms in addition to the federal government have resorted to prolonged and dear arbitration adopted by judicial assessment — a course of that takes years to resolve variations.

As per the official notification, the committee is to arbitrate on a dispute between companions in a contract or with the federal government over business or manufacturing points for oil and gas.

“Any dispute or difference arising out of a contract relating to exploration blocks/ fields of India can be referred to the committee, if both parties to the contract agree in writing for conciliation or mediation and further agree to not invoke arbitration proceedings thereafter,” the December 2019 notification mentioned.

Once a resolution has been referred to the panel, the events can not resort to arbitration or courtroom case to resolve it.

Oil ministry’s upstream technical arm, the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH) is to present secretarial help to the Committee.

Sources mentioned a lot of the disputes over phrases and laws round oil and gas fields are between firms and the DGH.

The panel, they mentioned, was appointed with out consultations with the trade.

Also, the “government reserves the right to change the terms and conditions as and when required without assigning any reasons thereof”, the notification mentioned.

The panel has a tenure of three years and the resolution is to be tried to be arrived inside three months.

The members and the events might, nevertheless, prolong the time for arriving at a settlement settlement by mutual settlement.

“The members of the committee shall at all times remain impartial to the parties during the course of the conciliation or mediation proceedings,” the notification had mentioned.

The committee appearing as conciliator or mediator might be allowed to take companies of a third-party or knowledgeable company to help and help it in discharge of its capabilities as and when required.

Upon receipt of a request referring dispute for resolution, the committee shall conduct the conciliation or mediation proceedings. “The proceedings shall be based on the principles of fairness, justice and good conscience,” it had mentioned.

For the procedural facet, the committee might be guided by the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, and the venue of the conciliation or mediation proceedings shall be New Delhi.

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