DK Sarraf not interested in Deen Dayal gasfield

Vol 19, PW 13 (10 Mar 16) People & Policy

After closing down GSPC's overseas exploration activities, outgoing managing director Atanu Chakraborty is now preparing to handover its prized Deen Dayal gasfield to ONGC.

But guess what? ONGC chairman DK Sarraf, a shrewd finance man, wants nothing to do with it. "ONGC is conducting a detailed internal evaluation of the proposal," reports a senior ONGC source.

"But Sarraf knows very well that Deen Dayal will bleed ONGC." Yet Sarraf is unlikely to have a choice: the Gujarat government is making it clear to oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan that it wants to offload Deen Dayal before state elections in 2017. GSPC's inability to begin commercial production from Deen Dayal has attracted bad publicity for the state's ruling BJP.

"Deen Dayal has become a hot political subject for the (state) government," we hear. Work on the proposed handover to ONGC has been underway since May last year when Sarraf accompanied by then ONGC Ahmedabad asset manager Yash Malik visited the GSPC headquarters.

Soon after, Pradhan toured the Deen Dayal offshore platform on June 25, 2015 to hear a detailed presentation from Chakraborty with Sarraf, oil secretary KD Tripathi, additional secretary Ajay Prakash Sawhney, and joint secretary (exploration) UP Singh in tow. "GSPC should have moved out of the field five years ago," adds a source.

GSPC's total debt burden has crossed the $3bn mark, many believe as a direct consequence of the company's Deen Dayal spend.