Government constitutes expert panel to resolve oil, gas disputes

PTI New Delhi | Updated on December 25, 2019 Published on December 25, 2019

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With disputes choking investments in the oil and gas sector, the government has constituted an expert committee for time-bound resolution of exploration and production disputes without having to resort to tardy judicial process.

The ‘Committee of External Eminent Persons/Experts’ for dispute resolution will comprise former oil secretary GC Chaturvedi, Oil India Ltd former head Bikash C Bora and Hindalco Industries Ltd Managing Director Satish Pai, according to an official notification.

The panel will have a tenure of three years and the resolution will be attempted to be arrived at within 3 months.

India’s oil and gas sector has been plagued by disputes from cost recovery to production targets, and companies as well as the government have resorted to lengthy and costly arbitration followed by judicial review -- a process that takes years to resolve differences. The notification said the committee will arbitrate on a dispute between partners in a contract or with the government over commercial or production issues for oil and gas.

Differences on contract

“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,” it said.

Once a resolution has been referred to panel, the parties cannot resort to arbitration or court case to resolve it.

“The committee shall exercise all powers and discharge all functions necessary for carrying out conciliation and mediation proceedings for resolution of the disputes between the parties as per the provisions of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, and endeavour that the parties arrive at a settlement agreement within three months from the date of the first meeting of the committee,” it said.

The members and the parties may, however, extend the time for arriving at a settlement agreement by mutual agreement.

“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 said.

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Published on December 25, 2019
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