The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Wednesday alleged that the UPA government was going ahead on the award of hydrocarbon fields in the country’s western offshore to the Essar group despite no contract having been signed by the two parties, which can potentially cause a loss of Rs.52,000 crore to the national exchequer.AAP's leader Prashant Bhushan told a press conference here that Essar Oil and Premier Oil Ltd, who were the successful bidders of the Ratna and R-series oil and gas field discoveries on the western off-shore, were given only the Letter of Award in 1996, but the contract was not signed. "The contract negotiations with the bidders could not start due to CAG's (Comptroller and Auditor General of India) observations and CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) investigations on the contracts awarded to other parties," Bhushan said.
"The issue at hand is whether the field can be given to Essar even though the bid conditions are 18 years old and the price of oil has increased six times in this period, given the fact that the contract was never signed," he added. The hydrocarbon field, bidding for which was initiated in 1993, has estimated cumulative oil reserves of 12.33 million tonnes and 1,285 million metric standard cubic metres (mmscm) of natural gas over a project life of 22 years, AAP said in a statement. AAP also said the union cabinet secretary had in 2008 warned that there would be a huge revenue loss for the government, and that the contract had not been duly concluded.