Ashish Chatterjee to share ministry E&P work

Vol 19, PW 26 (08 Sep 16) People & Policy

Maybe the ministry is preparing for a flood of bids in the Discovered Small Fields licensing round; maybe it just wants to promote E&P in India; or maybe it's a case of tailor-making a role to give a bureaucrat a nice job? Whatever the reason, the ministry will soon have two joint secretaries in the exploration division, once Ashish Chatterjee, 43, joins.

On August 22 the cabinet's appointments committee issued orders transferring Chatterjee to the oil ministry till the end of his five-year central government posting or April 15, 2019. "Chatterjee has not yet taken charge," says an oil ministry source.

"His exact job profile will be decided only after he joins." Confusingly some speculate he might be asked to handle gas pricing and gas allocation, a role already taken by Ashutosh Jindal, joint secretary marketing and gas pricing, who is apparently over-worked with the marketing brief. More likely however is that Chatterjee will take some workload off director exploration Nalin Srivastava, who as reported in our last edition is under pressure handling around 200 PSCs.

Normally there are three director level bureaucrats working in the exploration division but today there are only two: Srivastava and Prashant Lokhande. Ever Since Subhashish Panda left in 2015 one post has been lying vacant.

But sources say oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan has now elevated the third director exploration post to the level of joint secretary.