Search begins to replace Balyan at Petronet-LNG

Vol 18, PW 7 (20 Nov 14) People & Policy

AK Balyan must have been disappointed to hear oil secretary Saurabh Chandra announce he wants a search panel set up to find his replacement.

Chandra, who is also Petronet-LNG chairman, issued the order while presiding over a Board meeting on November 7 to approve unaudited financial results for the quarter/half year that ending September 30. Balyan’s replacement, we hear, wasn’t even on the agenda of the Board meeting! Balyan finishes his five-year term as MD on July 16 (2015) but will still have a full year left before retiring aged 65.

Chandra’s decision to begin the hunt for a new MD is a clear sign he doesn’t want Balyan to get the one-year extension. Yet sources believe Balyan will try to convince Chandra and the company Board otherwise.

“Chandra himself retires in April (2015),” we hear. “Balyan will have three months (till July) after the secretary’s retirement to ‘manage’ things.

” Balyan supporters cite past precedent for an extension: Petronet-LNG’s first MD Suresh Mathur, appointed in 1998, completed his five-year term in 2003 but won a two-year extension till March 2005, later extended to July 2005 until a replacement was found. “If Mathur could get an extension,” questions a source, “why can’t Balyan?” Born on July 2, 1951, Balyan was appointed MD on July 16, 2010.