Reliance Industries (RIL) has mounted a strong counter to the government petition in the Delhi High Court (HC) seeking to block its $15-billion deal with Saudi Aramco. It has said that the petition is an abuse of process as no arbitration award has fixed any final liability of dues on the company.
In a counter affidavit, RIL said it was a ‘falsehood’ that the arbitration tribunal had passed an award requiring the company and its partners to pay $3.5 billion to the government. It said the petition was an abuse of process as “it portrays that a sum of money is due and payable under the final award and purports to compute the money payable on a basis neither found in the arbitration award nor disclosed in the petition.”
The government, it said, has calculated on its own volition the revised figure of its share of profit from oil and gas production, allegedly due by extrapolating the purported finds.
The affidavit came in response to the government moving the Delhi HC, seeking to block RIL selling a 20 per cent stake in its oil-and-chemicals business to Saudi Aramco for $15 billion, in view of dues of $3.5 billion in the Panna-Mukta and Tapti oil and gas fields.
An international arbitration tribunal issued a partial award in October 2016 in the dispute between the Government of India (GoI), BG Exploration & Production India (BG), and RIL regarding the Panna-Mukta and Tapti production sharing contracts (PSCs). The tribunal in its 2016 award determined certain issues of principle.
Pending the determination of all issues before it, appropriately, it did not award any monetary sums. Quantification of amounts, if any, by the tribunal is to be done when all issues have been decided.