No surprise Ajay Khandelwal leaves Reliance

Vol 21, PW 1 (05 Oct 17) People & Policy

Ajay Khandelwal's resignation as Reliance's E&P president on September 20 comes as no surprise - several industry watchers tell us it was bound to happen sooner or later.

Since mid-2016 rumours have been flying around that Khandelwal's bosses are "unhappy" with his performance. "Ajay was asked to go," reports a Reliance source.

"Our management felt he had become ineffective. He lacked the technical skills and understanding of E&P needed to deal with the government." Another Reliance source says Khandelwal irritated company veterans, among them Naresh Narang, also an E&P business president, who didn't like him poking his nose into D6 operations.

Narang, in sharp contrast to Khandelwal who joined in 2013, is with Reliance since March 1995. He was part of a core team credited with the discovery and development of the D6 and MA fields at the flagship (but ultimately disappointing) KG-DWN-98/3 block.

"Narang is known for his technical strength," we hear. "He didn't like Ajay's involvement.

One of them had to go." Another source of conflict was with chief operating officer B. Ganguly who was humiliated when Reliance's oil and gas chief PMS Prasad introduced Khandelwal to oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan as Reliance's face after the BJP came to power in 2014.

Khandelwal later clashed with Prasad when he tried to win the support of Prasad's rival Manoj Modi, a former classmate of Mukesh Ambani.

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