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Indian regulation lifted for ONGC offshore investment plan

Mumbai: A decision by the Indian shipping ministry that has given the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation leeway on regulation that enforces a 25-year cap on vessels plying Indian waters may set a precedent for other vessel operators to continue using older vessels.

State-owned ONGC, which has announced an $8bn project to bring new offshore fields in the west and east coasts into production in the next few years, protested this cap when it was announced a few months ago as it would eliminate the majority of ships in its 200 vessel fleet.

In a letter to the shipping ministry ONGC chairman R Sharma argued that the ONGC fleet was seaworthy despite overstepping the age limit and that the cost of hiring vessels to replace those already deployed on the $8bn offshore plan would prove detrimental to the project.

In granting the request, the government may be inundated by similar requests from vessel operators eager to prove that their older vessels are similarly seaworthy.  [05/08/08]

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