Tripathi tells oil companies to stop fooling themselves

Vol 8, PW 10 (11 Aug 04) People & Policy

SC Tripathi has savaged the working practices of oil companies under his charge, barely a month into his appointment as oil secretary.

A source tells PETROWATCH how Tripathi challenged several oil companies and other institutions during a series of Quarterly Performance Review meetings last month. At one meeting with the Centre for High Technology (which Tripathi mistakenly related to the oil sector) he thundered: What is happening A fabric manufacturer (Reliance) is merrily discovering oil and gas all around, and we havent heard of anything from you for long.

At an upstream meeting, Tripathi demanded a list of new discoveries over the last 10 years but was told there had been reasonable accretions to reserves. Retorted Tripathi: I am not talking of small discoveries.

Has there been any worthwhile find after Mumbai High Tripathi told another chairman that oil companies should compare their performance with international benchmarks - not with meaningless MoUs signed with the government. What are these MoUs he asked.

Four people sit in a room and draw up the MoUs. I attach no importance to these MoU targets.

Tripathi said refining companies happily congratulate themselves when they exceed capacity by say, 600,00 tonnes. The next year, the same company congratulates itself if it exceeds capacity by a lesser margin of say, 400,000 tonnes.

Who are we trying to fool said Tripathi. No-one but ourselves! Tripathi is also scathing in his criticism of the recent frenzy to diversify into non-core areas.

Why cant you stick to your core areas he asked. Do you realise the funds you are using to experiment in these areas are all public money We have no right to squander it in experiments.

From one oil boss, Tripathi demanded an explanation for project cost and time overruns. I want to know the notional profits you would have had if you had completed these projects in time, he said.

Why cant we fix responsibility for delays and punish the guilty ­