Kapoor offers GSPC as 'shining example' to all

Vol 24, PW 19 (12 Aug 21) People & Policy

Hard to believe but oil secretary Tarun Kapoor acknowledges he had no idea what GSPC was when he took charge on May 1 (2020), but since then, he has realised what a fantastic company it is.

Kapoor spoke at a day-long investor's seminar at the Pandit Deendayal Energy University (PDEU) in Gandhinagar on August 6 (2021), immediately after GSPC managing director Sanjeev Kumar completed a lengthy PowerPoint presentation on the company and its activities. On his first visit to the PDEU as oil secretary, Kapoor praised GSPC, set up in 1979, and which received unstinting support from Narendra Modi when he was state chief minister from 2001 to 2014.

"I was surprised with the presentation (of Sanjeev Kumar) because, in our meetings in Delhi, GSPC's name always crops up in discussions," said Kapoor in his speech. "I used to wonder, what is GSPC? Is it a state-level organisation? Or is it a national level player? Now I can see that GSPC is a national level player, that it is doing very well and can do much more."

Deliberately or otherwise, Kapoor overlooked a minor detail: how the government forced ONGC to buy debt-laden GSPC's 80% stake in the Deen Dayal gas block for $1.19bn in August 2017 after it had spent $3bn with little to show. GSPC later sold its 28.4% in Gujarat Gas to sister company Gujarat State Petronet to help clear its massive debt pile.

Also missing from Kapoor's eulogy was an acknowledgement of GSPC's desperation to exit the upstream sector: on sale are GSPC's non-operator stakes in three onshore and two offshore blocks; six companies are interested. Instead, Kapoor urged E&P operators and service providers sitting in the PDEU auditorium to "dream" like GSPC.

"If a state organisation like GSPC can grow into a national organisation," he said, "even the smallest private company or operator sitting here can dream big and do a lot."