Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Azo, Kashiho take part in discussionon resumption of oil & gas operations


NPF Legislature party leader, Kuzholuzo (Azo) Nienu has cautioned the state that unless it resumes oil and gas explorations urgently, these natural resources would eventually become economically redundant.
Initiating the discussion on matters of urgent public importance under Rule-54 during the 12th session of 13th Nagaland Legislative Assembly (NLA) on its first sitting here Tuesday, Azo drew the attention of the members to gradual substitution from oil towards production of cleaner and sustainable and renewable energy. He said even oil companies like Oil India Ltd (OIL) and ONGC Ltd, were moving towards clean energy and it was therefore time for the state government to wake up and take concrete steps to resume oil and gas exploration and production before the “golden liquid became redundant” and lose its utility and market value.
Azo remarked that electric vehicles were expected to replace existing petrol/diesel-run vehicles in the coming decades and use of golden liquid was expected to drastically come down by 2035 throughout the world, including India, and use of fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas would completely stop as per projections for 2050.
He urged the State government to formulate policies having a participating interest (PI) of 10% to 15% in the already existing oilfields like Changpang and Tssori. Azo also recalled that the special status granted to Nagaland under Article 371(A) had led to conflicts among landowners, civil societies, the State government, oil companies and even the Central government over oil and gas exploration, causing undue interferences and delays.
He said the Nagaland Petroleum &Natural Gas Rules and Regulations (NP&NGRR), 2012 was passed by the Assembly in 2012 and subsequently the State government issued expression of interest (EOI) for 11 oil and gas blocks in Nagaland.
However, he said the Central government termed the NP&NG as “unconstitutional and invalid”, citing that the oil and gas sector came under the Union List.
He said the PIL between the State government and Lotha Hoho was resolved with the signing of an MoU. However, the Gauhati High Court Kohima Bench filed a suo moto case regarding NP&NGRR in November 2018, thereby putting to end all hope of oil ang gas exploration and production activities in the State.
In order to find a way out, Azo said the Union Minister for Petroleum & Natural Gas initiated a bipartite agreement with the State government and an MoU was expected to be finalised and signed very soon.
Also taking part in the discussion, minister of Soil & Water Conservation, Geology& Mining Kashiho Sangtam updated the House recalled that an MoU was signed between Lotha Hoho and NPNG Board for withdrawal of the former’s PILbut the principal bench subsequently registered a suo moto case.
While the issue was pending, Sangtam mentioned that the centre’s decision to auction two oil blocks, viz, Chümoukedima and Tenyiphe, were put on hold at the request of chief minister till the issue was resolved.
He also said the chief minister and chief secretary informed Government of India that no permission would be granted for petroleum and natural gas activities in Nagaland till the issue was resolved between the Centre and the State.
Subsequent upon a series of meetings with the ministry concerned, the Union Minister for Petroleum & Natural Gas had in 2021 suggested the State government and the ministry to come up with a bipartite MoU to facilitate resumption of exploration and production of petroleum and natural gas pending resolution of the matter in high court.
Sangtam clarified that the draft bipartite MoU was an alternative arrangement outside the court and did not infringe on Article 371(A) and nor was within the purview of PNG Rules, 1959. He said the ministry had shared the draft MoU and the State government had accordingly incorporated the suggestions and views in the draft and sent to advocate general of Nagaland, whose reply was awaited.