Whispers Oil India will close Noida office

Vol 24, PW 5 (28 Jan 21) People & Policy

Nothing is confirmed but there's growing talk the Indian government is putting pressure on Oil India to close its six-storey corporate office in Noida and move to Assam state capital Guwahati.

Oil India insiders speak of a "strong wind blowing in Delhi" suggesting that the wholesale move of all company operations, including its corporate responsibilities, closer to the company's cultural and ethnic base in Assam is under active discussion at the highest levels. "Our (Oil India) directors talked about it this month (January)," reports a source.

"Even parliamentary committees are talking about it." Adding to the mix is deep unhappiness with Oil India within the ruling BJP after the devastating well blow-out at BGN-5 and the damaging repercussions this could have on the party's fortunes in forthcoming state elections in April (2021).

Stung by the blow-out, oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan, a wily political operator, is sharpening his tone with a less than friendly demeanour in interactions with Oil India directors. "During video conferences over the past two weeks, I've heard Pradhan scold Oil India for not only the blow-out but falling production," adds our source.

"Don't be surprised if the order (to shift to Guwahati) comes from the very top." Should this happen, expect stiff resistance from Oil India directors, accustomed to the convenience of working with dedicated staff from rented premises adjacent to OIL House and its proximity to the DGH and other central government offices.

Not to mention the much sought after lifestyle perks of living in the national capital. "None of them wants to shift to Guwahati but there might not be a way out," we hear.

"The idea is that the chairman and directors will all move to Guwahati; only the director operations (PK Goswami) might be asked to work from (operational HQ) in Duliajan."