Drillers pledge not to hire retired ONGC personnel

Vol 8, PW 10 (11 Aug 04) Exploration & Production

Drilling contractors who walked into room number 328 on the third floor of ONGCs Vasudhara Bhavan office in Mumbai on 2nd August had only one thing on their mind: the opening of price bids for a 7-rig western offshore tender.

After the usual exchange of pleasantries they settled down. But instead of opening the bids at 3pm, ONGC general manager SM Aggarwal handed out copies of a typewritten sheet to each contractor.

Copies were also sent simultaneously by fax to their head offices. The one paragraph letter on ONGC letterhead caught everyone by surprise.

Each of them was asked to give an immediate undertaking not to employ any ONGC employee who had retired in the past two years. ONGC stressed it would only open the price bids after each driller had given the undertaking.

Caught off guard, the drillers were agitated. We didnt expect them to spring this on us at the last minute, says a source.

This tender has been around for 45 days. ONGC must have set the bid opening date a week ago.

Why didnt they include this clause in the invitation sent to us On 31st July, ONGC asked each driller to confirm the availability of their rigs. Even then they didnt tell us about this clause.

Drillers told ONGC it was unfair to expect this undertaking at the last minute as most drilling contractors send junior officials for the price bid opening. But ONGC stood firm.

All the contractors present told ONGC they didnt have the authority to make such a commitment. But ONGC said it was prepared to wait.

A flurry of telephone calls ensued with each drilling contractor finally submitting the undertaking as demanded by ONGC. Bids were finally opened at 6pm.

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