Pradhan shames ONGC chairman at DSF-2 launch

Vol 21, PW 23 (23 Aug 18) People & Policy

ONGC chairman Shashi Shanker was visibly upset on August 9 after oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan criticised his company's poor performance in the OALP-1 round where it won only two blocks.

Pradhan lashed out at Shanker at a DGH event to launch the DSF-2 bidding round at the Taj Palace hotel in Delhi. "Don't swear at me because ONGC has won only two blocks in OALP-1!" declared Pradhan in Hindi, pointing to Shanker sitting in the audience.

"I am told ONGC bid for 37 blocks: 30 on its own and seven with partners," added Pradhan. "It's not my fault ONGC hasn't done well." Clearly unhappy, Shanker forced a weak smile.

To rub salt in the wound, Pradhan then heaped praise on Cairn India for winning 41 of the 55 blocks offered under OALP-1. "Sudhir Mathur (oil and gas chief at Cairn owner Vedanta) is here," said Pradhan.

"How many blocks have you won?" Excited by the sudden attention, and beaming with pride, Mathur rose from his seat like an obedient schoolboy and said "41". Pradhan went on to say people are wrong to think multinationals aren't interested in India.

Saudi Aramco and ADNOC are ready to invest in India's refining sector, he said, and pointed at BP India chief Sashi Mukundan in the audience. "Mukundan must have $3bn to $4bn in his pocket," he joked.

"Patrick Pouyanne (Total chairman) has also told me he wants to invest in India."