Arun Singh comes first in PNGRB chairman race

Vol 25, PW 18 (11 Aug 22) People & Policy

Bharat Petroleum chairman Arun Kumar Singh is top of a list of three names selected for the position of PNGRB chairman - vacant since December 4 (2020) when DK Sarraf retired.

But it could be months before Singh is formally appointed: he retires from BPCL on October 31 (2022). Approval for his appointment from the ACC and the PMO will also take time.

Singh's name was recommended after an interview on August 4 (2022) by the four-member committee led by NITI Aayog member and defence industry scientist VK Saraswat. Other committee members were oil secretary Pankaj Jain, commerce secretary BVR Subrahmanyam, and law secretary Niten Chandra.

Second on the list of names recommended for the position was mines secretary Alok Tandon, who also briefly held the additional charge of oil secretary. Third on the list was Virendra Nath Datt, former ED in the office of GAIL chairman Manoj Jain.

Nath is now chairman of the National Fertilisers of India. Among the others interviewed were Subhash Kumar, who was formerly interim chairman of ONGC from March 31 (2021) to December 31 (2021) when he retired; Rajesh Kumar Chaturvedi, former secretary of fertilisers, who retired on June 30 (2022); and IOC director pipelines DS Nanaware.

"All three recommended names are now with the oil minister (Hardeep Singh Puri)," says a source. "He will recommend Singh's name for approval to the ACC."

Singh is described by colleagues as a 'tough task master' but with a 'pleasing' personality. He took charge as BPCL chairman on September 7 (2021) and has held director-level positions in BPCL's upstream arm Bharat PetroResources, Bharat Oman Refineries, Indraprastha Gas, Petronet-LNG, and Bharat Gas Resources.

Born on October 6 (1962), he is a qualified mechanical engineer and has been with BPCL since 1985. Unlike other top-level executives, Singh has no time for things like playing golf, preferring instead to read voraciously.

Before he was appointed BPCL chairman, Singh served as director marketing on the BPCL board for three years, from October (2018) to September (2021).