ONGC gives more power to its exploration managers

Vol 10, PW 16 (30 Nov 06) Exploration & Production

ONGC is introducing a radical overhaul of its exploration business to stem the worrying exodus of talented but frustrated staff to the private sector.

Long overdue, the new changes empower junior managers responsible for small assets. Such managers have until now remained largely invisible, stifled by a crushing bureaucracy that discourages innovation and change.

Central to the new regime is the replacement of the basin as the core business unit by the smaller acreage or block. Put simply, responsibility for the individual acreage will pass directly to the officer in charge of the block, not his senior.

ONGCs new regime to devolve exploration responsibility emerged on 16th and 17th October at a meeting in Mumbai, presided by director exploration DK Pande, who is spearheading the change. Until now, ONGCs exploration business has been organised into seven basins, each ruled by a basin manager who is the king of his charge.

Under the new regime, the king is spared execution, but the assets in his basin are carved up and offered to acreage managers who are the first point of call if anything goes wrong, or right. We want to introduce the business of science concept rather than have people engage in lazy scientific pursuits, reveals a senior ONGC source.

The acreage will be the new profit and growth centre of ONGC. Armed with financial powers and spurred by performance-related incentives, each acreage manager will be required to identify drilling prospects and suggest physical and technology inputs.

The acreage manager will report to the basin manager and also have direct access to the exploration director. A typical acreage manager has 20 years experience.

Such people normally remain faceless in ONGC, we hear. But as acreage managers theyll get opportunities to shine and prove their mettle.

Ideas and directions at ONGC have traditionally flowed from the board down to field units. This top-down approach killed initiative, we hear.

In the new system, ideas and initiatives will flow upwards from the field units.