Modi’s Energy Minister Saurabh Patel exposed; His Cos invested in oil & gas blocks

Saurabh Patel-wefornews

New Delhi, November 22: Four-time BJP MLA from Gujarat Saurabh Patel who has served as the Minister of Energy & Petrochemicals for 14 years is exposed for using PSUs liaisons for financial interests of his family business as Energy Minister.

Indian Express on Tuesday revealed that Patel used a web of companies to meet his financial interests in 8 onshore oil blocks in Gujarat.

As Energy & Petrochemicals Minister in 2009, Patel joined his brother’s Suryaja Infrastructure Private limited with 5000 shares and the share holding continues even today. The company that was set up in 2008, that too in his tenure as a minister was owned by Mehul Dalal and Nikita Dalal (brother and sister in law of Patel) and each of them owned 5000 shares respectively.

The same year Suryaja invested in a private listed company Gujarat Natural Resources Limited (GNRL) which was dealing in oil and gas exploration. This particularly raises the charge of corruption on Patel he was Energy Minister.

As per the report, Registrar of Companies records reveal Surjaya’s link with production-sharing contracts signed by Centre and state-owned PSUs for exploration of 8 oil blocks in the Cambay basin in Gujarat. The report is published after checking balance sheets and filings to the BSE that clearly exposed a use of web of transactions and a series of name-changes.

The involved Public sector units included Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC); Hindustan Oil and Exploration Company (HOEC) and state-owned Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation (GSPC).

GSPC was under Patel’s Ministry. On August 7, 2016, Vijay Rupani took over as the Chief Minister of Gujrat and Saurabh Patel was dropped from the Cabinet.

In his assets affidavit filed before Election Commission in 2012, Patel did not declare his shares in Suryaja while listing his investments in several companies.

Summary of events

  • Gujarat based Ashok Shah and his son Shalin Shah incorporated Leesha Steel in August 1991 and this company is the key link between Suryaja and 8 oil blocks. For the period 1991 to 2007, the company drew almost nil.
  • In 2001 a Bahamas-based company, Heramec won exploration rights for six oil blocks in Gujarat. It had 30% stake in each block.
  • Heramec signed production sharing contracts with GSPC and HOEC oil blocks. After 3 years it received 10% stake in 2 more oil blocks with ONGC.
  • In 2004 Hyderabad-based Gorlas Corporation acquires Heramec. Saibabu Gorla is CMD of Gorla Group.
  • In March 2008: Lesha Steel becomes Lesha Energy Resources Limited.
  • March-September 2008: Lesha Energy issues 55 lakh equity shares (11.16%) for around Rs 1.5 – 1.6 crore to uncle of Saurabh Patel.
  • April 2008: Saurabh Patel’s family sets up Suryaja Infrastructure Private Ltd; Saurabh Patel joins the company in 2009-10.
  • In January 2009: Gorlas Corporation renames itself as Gorlas Oil and Gas.
  • In March 2009, Lesha Energy acquires Gorlas Oil and Gas for Rs 43 crore.
  • October-December 2009: Saurabh Patel’s Suryaja buys Desai’s 55 lakh shares (6.4%) for Rs 6.40 crore.
  • In February 2010, Gorlas Oil and Gas changes its name to Sigma Oil and Gas.
  • Lesha Energy changes its name to Gujarat Natural Resources Limited (GNRL). And Heramec’s name is changed to GNRL Oil and Gas in September
  • As a result of dilution in equity of GNRL between January and March 2010, Suryaja’s holding in GNRL came down to from 4% to 4.01%.
  • GNRL’s stock jumped over 20 times. As against Rs 4.13 in April 2007, shares sky rocketed to Rs 85.6 in December 2008 when Patel joined his company. 

Between 2002 and 2016, Patel handled several portfolios including Mines and Minerals, Stationery, Planning, Tourism, Civil Aviation, Cottage Industry, Salt Industry, Printing and Labour and Employment, besides Energy and Petrochemicals. He held the Energy and Petrochemicals portfolio since 2002 when he was a Minister of State.

Wefornews Bureau

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