GUWAHATI, Oct 7 � Reluctance of foreign and domestic specialised oil sector companies to come to the North East has slowed down the progress of crude oil and gas exploration in the region. However, the situation is better in Tripura than in all the other states of the region.
Highly placed sources in the oil industry told The Assam Tribune that exploration work in Assam was affected because of the situation, while exploration in Nagaland and Manipur had to be stopped because of the failure of the state governments to provide adequate security to the companies engaged in exploration work. However, the situation is much better in Tripura as the state government deployed personnel of the Tripura Rifles to provide security to the persons engaged in oil and gas exploration work. Apart from the public sector companies, one reputed private sector company also worked in Tripura without any trouble and only recently, one company, Jubilant Energy, struck gas in that state.
Sources pointed out that public sector companies like Oil India Limited (OIL) and Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited (ONGCL) also engage reputed private sector companies, both domestic and foreign, for specialised jobs including seismic surveys. However, very often, because of the prevailing situation, the reputed companies are reluctant to come to work in Assam.
Sources said that at one point of time, the private sector companies were reluctant to come to Assam because of militancy. Though the level of violence in the State has come down, the attitude of the companies has not changed because some companies had bad experience of working in the State. One of the main reasons is the frequent bandhs in different localities, which affect free movement of men and materials to the work sites. Sources pointed out that if the costly and sophisticated equipment used by the companies engaged in specialised jobs have to be kept idle for months, the work does not remain cost-effective for such companies.
The second major problem is demands for �donations�, which is very rampant in Assam. Sources said that the companies have to pay donations to different organisations in other parts of the country also, �but in Assam, they have to keep too many organisations happy, which is a major problem.� Moreover, there have been instances when different organisations came up with lists of persons to be appointed. Most companies are willing to appoint locals for jobs which are not specialised in nature. But they want the best available local talent. But if some organisations come up with their own lists of persons to be appointed, even the best of the local talents are deprived and the work suffers, sources pointed out.
Because of the reluctance of the private companies to work in Assam, the ONGCL once had to impose the condition that those given work in Mumbai High would have to work in Assam. That forced a few multinational companies to come reluctantly to the State, sources added.
Meanwhile, sources revealed that the situation in some other oil producing states like Gujarat is totally different. The mindset of the people is different, while the state governments concerned also extend all possible help. In fact, the Government of Gujarat has its own petroleum company, which is involved in oil and gas exploration and engages multinational companies for specialised jobs.