The issue at stake: the award of oil and gas exploration contracts on the basis of bids placed by local public and private firms as well as foreign ones for various blocks as part of the 'sixth round' of the New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP-VI). Once ONGC emerged as the top contender for over 20 blocks, DGH V.K. Sibal argued that the state-owned corporation should be denied the exploration contracts for 12 deep-water blocks 'purely' on account of its 'unsatisfactory' track record.
He went a step further and recommended the government should negotiate with foreign firms for finalising these contracts. The icing on the cake was his suggestion that in the event of negotiations with global oil and gas firms not being successful, the government should award the 12 contracts to the second-best bidder—which, in this instance, happened to be the Mukesh Ambani-owned Reliance Industries.