First CCI meet: No breakthrough in oil, gas blocks issue

New Delhi: The first meeting of the newly formed Cabinet Committee on Investment today failed to break the logjam over defence clearances to oil and gas activities in 39 offshore areas, including Reliance Industries' producing KG-D6 fields.

The CCI headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asked the ministries of petroleum and defence to sort out differences on allowing exploration and production particularly in Krishna Godavari basin.

The CCI, which was constituted to expedite the clearance for infrastructure projects of Rs 1,000 crore or more, took up the issue of defence ministry declaring 6 blocks in KG basin including KG-D6 producing fields and one in NEC or North East Coast region (RIL's gas discovery area of NEC-25) as "No-Go" areas and putting stringent conditions on 32 other blocks.

"The Cabinet Committee on Investment had its first meeting today. The oil and gas sector specifically from investment remit was discussed extensively.

"There were certain areas where certain problems were identified and therefore the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas has been tasked with responsibility of sitting down with the Ministry of Defence and resolving some of the problems which are there with regard to 39 blocks," I&B Minister Manish Tewari told reporters after a nearly 100 minute long meeting.

He said specific timelines have been fixed and both ministries have been asked to come back to CCI within one month.

Originally, the Defence Ministry had declared 14 blocks as "No-Go" areas as they over-lapped or were close to proposed Naval base or missile launching range/air force exercise area.

But the Defence Ministry later relented and agreed for exploration to be permitted in 7 blocks in Mahanadi basin. One more block which had previously objected to by the Commerce Ministry too had been cleared.