Anger as Pradhan blocks Mannur as IOC dir. mktg

Vol 18, PW 6 (06 Nov 14) People & Policy

Several conspiracy theories are on offer to explain why oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan rejected UV Mannur’s selection as IOC director (marketing).

Senior IndianOil officials allege Pradhan wants to weaken IOC so private competitors Reliance, Essar and Shell can seize market share in the fuel retail sector after the government freed up diesel prices last month (October). These sources accuse Pradhan of keeping IOC’s marketing division ‘headless’ at a critical time when it needs to maintain market position.

“Diesel is sold at market-linked prices now,” we hear. “State-owned refiners will lose market share to private players in the medium to long-term.

” Mannur was selected by the PESB on May 26 to replace director marketing M. Nene who retires on December 31.

His name was promptly cleared by the CVC and CBI and sent to oil minister Pradhan. If the post is re-advertised it will take six months for a new person to join.

“Any gap in decision making will weaken IOC - even a 10 paise difference in commission or transaction can have huge consequences,” we learn. Some go further, saying Pradhan must have secured Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s support for such a major decision, while others say the PM wouldn’t oppose Pradhan on this.

In his rejection note, Pradhan simply wrote simply: “Mannur doesn’t have retail sales and lube marketing experience.”

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