Taking the blame for ONGCآ’s deepwater failures

Vol 8, PW 20 (12 Jan 05) Exploration & Production

ONGCs ambitious deepwater drilling programme has not lived up to the expectations of chairman Subir Raha when he launched Project Sagar Samriddhi with three deepwater drillships in October 2003.

Now, ONGCs string of dry wells has taken its first toll within the corporation: director exploration YB Sinha. In an unprecedented move, Sinha has decided not to ask for an extension and will resign when his five-year term ends on 4th May 2005.

Under normal circumstances, Sinha would have been expected to reapply for the job and would have been reappointed as a matter of course because his official retirement date from ONGC is on 30th April 2006. But a source tells this report Sinha chose not to re-apply because he is being blamed for the poor results of the deepwater drilling programme.

Raha is blaming Sinha for the dry wells, we are told. Sinha made a smart move by not re-applying.

Sinha, however, denies any link between his decision and the deepwater drilling programme. I decided in October 2003 not to re-apply, Sinha tells this report.

At this stage of my life I feel I should share and disseminate knowledge about earth sciences in schools, colleges and universities. Sinha said he informed the oil ministry about his decision in November 2004.

After much thought I finalised my decision in February and March 2004 and all my friends and colleagues knew about it six months ago. I want to devote the rest of my time to intellectual pursuits.

Sinha brushes aside the setbacks of the deepwater programme as the normal risks taken as part of the exploration business. He adds: Success has many claimants but everybody likes to pass the buck for setbacks.

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