Petronet-LNG adds 11th name to MD hopeful list

Vol 23, PW 25 (22 Oct 20) People & Policy

Petronet-LNG has added an eleventh name to the original list of ten contenders to replace managing director Prabhat Singh as the October 31 (2020) date for interviews fast approaches.

On October 20, Petronet-LNG sent a letter inviting candidates for the interview. Yet speculation continues that the oil ministry is lining up ONGC director finance Subhash Kumar for the job because of his links to oil secretary Tarun Kapur and oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan.

This month (October) Petronet-LNG added the name of Amit Garg, a chief general manager at BPCL but since July 25 (2019) director commercial at Delhi-based gas retailer Indraprastha Gas. Garg is also BPCL's 'nominee director' at Pune-based gas retailer Maharashtra Natural Gas.

Why Garg's name has appeared is not known. But his inclusion is unlikely to make any difference.

A well-placed source tells us Kumar's selection as the next MD at Petronet-LNG is a formality. "There are four solid reasons for this," he says.

First is his relationship with oil secretary Tarun Kapur, who joined the IAS from Kumar's home state Himachal Pradesh in 1987. "Kumar and Kapoor get on well," we hear.

Second is Kumar's strong relationship with Pradhan, whose wife Mridula is also from Himachal. Third, ONGC chairman Shashi Shanker's strong backing for Kumar.

"Shankar is Kumar's mentor," he adds. And finally, the pivotal role Kumar played in August 2017 when as executive director finance he facilitated ONGC's controversial $1.19bn acquisition of an 80% stake in Deendayal block KG-OSN-2001/3 held by GSPC - Narendra Modi's pet company.