VK Sibal first on shortlist as new boss of DGH

Vol 8, PW 5 (02 Jun 04) People & Policy

VK Sibal is the hot favourite for the job of DG at the DGH.

Our industry grapevine tells us that Dr Prasad is number two while Saxena has been relegated to number three. Contacted by PETROWATCH, oil secretary BK Chaturvedi declined to reveal the names on the shortlist.

I know there are some names doing the rounds but I cannot confirm or deny anything, he said. Others tell us Chaturvedi stayed neutral during the interviews and is ready to accept Dr Mashelkars choice.

Sibal is widely expected to get the job, unless oil minister Aiyar decides otherwise after his scheduled return on Tuesday (1st June) from his parliamentary constituency. Yet Sibals appointment, if it happens, wont be without controversy.

Several sources point to his limited upstream experience. He meets the ministry requirement of a minimum 25 years in the sector but has only worked with Indias junior explorer Oil India, which works in just two producing basins of India: Assam Arakan and Rajasthan.

Contrast this with Saxena, who like Sibal is a geophysicist, but has more varied experience. Saxena spent 18 years with ONGC, which works in seven producing basins in India.

From ONGC Saxena moved to the DGH when it was set up in 1993 and has been there ever since. Says our industry source: People in ONGC have far more experience because they have worked in more basins.

Its believed that former DGH boss Chandra is vigorously supporting Sibal and Prasad (in that order) and not, as expected, his former colleague Saxena. Prasad is believed to have the support of Yashwant Sinha - foreign minister in the previous BJP-led government, which lost national elections last month and, says one source: could well be the dark horse in this race.

Unlike Sibal and Saxena, Mithilesh Prasad does not have 25 years upstream experience but has worked in the DGH for three years. Prasad is believed to me more of an academic than a manager.

It was initially believed that because Prasad did not have a minimum 25 years of upstream experience, he wouldnt be called for the interview.