Not everybody welcome as PNGRB chairman

Vol 25, PW 2 (16 Dec 21) People & Policy

Thirteen candidates are in the race for PNGRB chairman, but the oil ministry is thinking of reducing this number dramatically.

By the December 11 (2021) oil ministry deadline, it received applications from serving and retired directors of state-owned companies and bureaucrats. Among the strong candidates are GK Satish, former chairman of IndianOil Adani Gas (IOAGPL) and ex-director BD at IndianOil; former oil secretary Tarun Kapoor; former ONGC chairman Shashi Shanker; and interim ONGC chairman Subhash Kumar, who retires on December 31 (2021).

But well-placed sources say the oil ministry believes only former government secretaries and former chairs of state-owned companies and those who hold equivalent positions in the private sector should be called for interviews. Others feel this is unlikely because only Shashi Shanker and Tarun Kapoor would be eligible.

Subhash Kumar is only an interim chairman, making him ineligible to run. Other applicants are (Ms) Pragma Parande, a member of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights; Vineet Sagar, an ExxonMobil executive; Anadee Nath Mishra, an accountant member at the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT); Dr Debesh Chandra Patra, who retired as executive director planning from Bharat Petroleum, Numaligarh Refinery managing director Saumendra Kumar Barua; Virendra Nath Datt, an officer on special duty in GAIL chairman Manoj Jain's office; AK Jana, IGL managing director; Surendra Nath Pandey who retired as Chennai Petroleum managing director; and Gopal Chandra Sikder, who is IOC refinery head.

Former oil secretary Tarun Kapoor enjoys support from oil minister Hardeep Puri. But he might have to mend his relationship with the PMO to stand a chance; the PMO is unhappy that Kapoor failed to recommend Sanjeev Sahai as its preferred candidate for PNGRB chairman after interviews on June 2 (2021).

On November 30 (2021), Kapoor retired after unsuccessfully trying to secure an extension as oil secretary. He submitted his PNGRB chairman application on November 26 (2021), leading some to ask why he was in such a hurry to apply.

If Kapoor is appointed gas regulator, sources say he will be hard-pressed to choose between his former loyalty to the oil ministry and now to the PNGRB.