Hyderabad: Amid the controversy over fall in natural gas production from Reliance Industries' KG-D6 fields, Oil Minister S Jaipal Reddy is likely to pay a visit to the
Bay of Bengal fields on Sunday.
Reddy, whose ministry is seeking to punish RIL for what it calls failures on part of the Mukesh Ambani-run firm in honouring commitments that led to almost halving of the gas output, will be the first minister to visit the Krishna Godavari basin fields.
Sources privy to the development said Reddy is likely to be accompanied by P M S Prasad, Executive Director, RIL on his visit to the offshore platform which collects and processes gas from several wells on the fields, as well as to the Onshore Gas Terminal at Gadimoga, near Tallarevu Mandal, about 30 km south of Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh.
Reddy's visit to the fields will happen just weeks before a field trip by the Parliament's Public Accounts Committee (PAC), headed by BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi, on March 1.
PAC is examining the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) that criticised RIL and the Oil Ministry for violation of KG-D6 contract.
RIL started crude oil production from MA oilfield in the KG-DWN-98/3 or KG-D6 block in September 2008. In April 2009, it began pumping natural gas from Dhirubhai-1 and 3 fields in the block to the onshore terminal at Gadimoga for onward transmission to consumers.
Once the fields - largest ever discovered in the country - were established, there were attempts by the then Petroleum Minister Murli Deora to take Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for a visit and their formal dedication to the nation. But that did not happen. Even Deora never visit the KG-D6 fields or the onshore terminal at Gadimoga.
Sources said the offer of PAC members "getting a feel" of the infrastructure marvel that RIL has created in deepsea was made by Prasad at the last meeting of the panel earlier this month.
Reddy's visit will come days after he said the government may send a notice to RIL to curtail cost-recovery at its KG-D6 gas fields as the company drilled fewer wells than planned, leading to fall in production from 61.5 million cubic meters per day (achieved in March 2010) to less than 35 mmcmd currently instead of rising to planned 70 mmcmd.
When contacted, RIL spokespersons said they have not received any official communication so far.
"We have been indicated of his (Jaipal Reddy’s) visit. But there is no official communication so far," a spokesperson told PTI.
Sources said Reddy will first fly to Kakinada and then use a chopper to visit the offshore terminal.

The Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH) had recently said that as much as USD 1.235 billion should be disallowed - out of the USD 5.7 billion expenditure already made - in KG-D6, as RIL has drilled and completed only 18 wells as against agreed the 31 wells in the block, resulting in lower gas output.
Anticipating such a move, RIL had on November 24 slapped an arbitration notice saying the Production Sharing Contract allows 100 per cent of expense to be recovered and has no provision to restrict cost recovery in proportion to output.