In a stunning comment, Oil Minister M Veerappa Moily on Friday said petroleum ministers are "threatened" by import lobbies not to take decisions that will cut India's USD 160 billion oil imports.
Moily, who has been under attack from the CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta for proposing to hike natural gas prices by 60 per cent, said he has been striving to attract investments in almost stagnant oil and gas exploration which will lead to higher domestic output and lesser reliance on imports.
"I am telling you with all sense of responsibility (that) we are floating in oil and gas in this country. And we don't explore it. We put every obstruction not to do it. There is bureaucratic obstructions and delays.
"And also there are other lobbies. They don't want us to stop imports. There are some lobbies who are working on that.
Every minister is threatened many a times. Every minister who occupies this position is threatened," he told reporters here.
Moily however refused to name anyone or identify anyone who may have directly or indirectly threatened ministers.
"History will speak about it. It is for you to judge," he said, adding oil imports will rise dramatically if domestic production is not incentivised through right pricing policy.
"This (increase in oil imports) will work to the detriment of the country. We are challenged by the vagaries of international price," he said.
The revision in natural gas prices was aimed at reviving investor confidence and attracting investments, he added.
"For the last 4-5 years, investor sentiments is not that high... We have to give right price, otherwise nobody will come. One well (in the ultra deepsea) may sometime cost in millions of dollars," he said.
Moily said he has proposed to the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) the raising of domestic gas prices from current USD 4.2 per million British thermal unit to USD 6.775.
Moily said he will not be cowed down by any lobby and will continue to work for any India energy independent by 2030. "I am not helpless. Any timid minister will not go forward... I have come here to strive hard for the sake of the country, to work for the country. If anybody thinks that decision making process in the oil sector will be prevented they are totally wrong," he said.