BG and Total fade away from Indian landscape

Vol 19, PW 12 (25 Feb 16) People & Policy

Once prominent features on India's oil and gas landscape, British Gas and Total are fading from view, adding to a fast diminishing list of overseas oil companies with a physical presence in India.

On February 15, Shell announced its $52bn acquisition of BG, mainly for its prolific Brazilian portfolio, was complete, leaving the UK operator's 270 staff in India asking what next? Two months earlier in December and 14 years after it opened, Total abruptly closed its eight-strong office in Delhi, firing local Indian staff and re-locating expats to manage the company's Indian business from Paris, ostensibly to save costs. "It wasn't a happy ending," reports a source.

In India Total holds a 26% stake at the Shell-operated Hazira LNG terminal and 50% in a profitable underground LPG terminal venture with HPCL at Vizag. BG's local Indian staff will be hoping their new masters in The Hague will be more merciful.

'Business as usual' is the mantra from Shell to BG staff in India but the future is without doubt uncertain. Not just for 160 staff at its Powai office in Mumbai looking after HR, finance, contracts and procurement but also for around 100 'shore' workers at BG's principle assets in India: the Panna, Mukta and Tapti oil and gasfields where Shell - never a fan of Indian E&P - has unwittingly secured 30% as joint operator with Reliance and ONGC.

Will it keep that stake or offload it? That's the question on everybody's lips.