Three favourites for ONGC chairman position

Vol 24, PW 14 (03 Jun 21) People & Policy

Three names are circulating as promising contenders for the vacant ONGC chairman position: Ahmedabad asset manager Pankaj Kumar, director technology and field services OP Singh, and Assam principal secretary Avinash Joshi.

Born on June 30 (1966), 54-year-old Kumar moved from the Cambay asset to become Ahmedabad asset manager on January 27 (2020), ONGC's most significant and logistically challenging onland asset with 22 fields. He joined ONGC in 1987 at the Mumbai offshore asset, working at the BHN process complex.

"Kumar has a good track record," says a supporter. "He's worked in important ONGC departments."

Among them well servicing in Assam, and as an operating committee member managing the CB/OS-2 asset off Gujarat. "Kumar's performance has been instrumental in raising Ahmedabad production," adds another source.

On December 25 (2020), the Ahmedabad asset registered production of 4355 tonnes/day or 31,900 b/d - up from an average of 4100 tonnes/day or 30,000 b/d. Another strong candidate is OP Singh, ONGC director of technology and field services.

"Singh is the most senior (highest ranking) candidate at ONGC," says a source. "If you consider that, he is a frontrunner."

But another source believes Singh's performance since he took over as director (on April 1, 2020) has been less than inspiring. Some speculate Avinash Joshi, an IAS officer, could win if the government acts on a March 15 (2021) recommendation from DGH director general SCL Das to split up ONGC.

"If the government wants ONGC divided into different parts," says a source, "they would prefer a bureaucrat." In a six-page action plan entitled ONGC: Way Forward, Das said: "ONGC may explore creating separate entities for drilling, well services, logging, workover services and data processing through various modes."

On May 18 (2021), the PESB released a shortlist and scheduled interviews for the chairman and director offshore positions on June 4 (2021).