ONGC: Shock at Shashi Shanker's dismissal

Vol 18, PW 13 (26 Feb 15) People & Policy

Widespread disbelief and rampant speculation have greeted the news that ONGC director technical & field services Shashi Shankar has been suspended.

Some believe it’s a clear signal from Prime Minister Narendra Modi that any failure to toe the line will be severely punished. Officially the story is that Shankar was suspended on February 23 for alleged irregularities in a yet-to-be-awarded tender for 21 blowout preventers.

Shankar, says the government's dismissal notice, was associated with this tender as group general manager and officer on special duty (OSD) to his predecessor and from December 1, 2012 as director himself. But some industry sources say the real story is that Shankar’s suspension is linked with a dispute over ONGC’s decision to scrap Category-IV of its 2014 tender to hire 12 jack-ups.

“Shankar was under pressure from the oil ministry to hire two jack-ups offered by Jindal Drilling,” says an officer close to the development. “But he didn’t hire Jindal and his suspension is the outcome not following the ministry’s informal directives.

” Yet another source feels the whole thing is the other way round: that Shankar supports Jindal and wanted to negotiate. Whatever the truth, many at ONGC believe the ministry’s move is vindictive.

“Normally when an inquiry is underway you are asked to go on leave,” says a source, “not dismissed.”

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