Restless Pandey visits Rajasthan and Assam oilfields

Vol 12, PW 19 (26 Feb 09) People & Policy

If and when RS Pandey makes the jump from oil secretary to home or cabinet secretary you can be sure that he will know the finer points of the country’s oil and gas infrastructure.

Fond of escaping the office, Pandey’s latest excursion at state-owned company expense was to northeast India where none other than Oil India chairman and managing director NM Borah and his management team gave the oil secretary and his wife first-class treatment. “It was a guided tour of the facilities at Oil India’s Duliajan HQ in Assam,â€‌ we hear.

“Pandey stayed for a day and left on February 22.â€‌ But like a lucky uncle travelling among extended family, Pandey’s next destination was in the same state, also among familiar faces, because the next day, ONGC escorted him through its facilities in Assam.

Not wanting to be left out, Bharat Petroleum’s 3m t/y Numaligarh Refinery also had the honour of welcoming Pandey at the refinery on the same day. “Pandey is the second secretary after BK Chaturvedi to visit Numaligarh,â€‌ we are told.

“SC Tripathi almost reached there but his helicopter could not land because of rain and it returned to Dibrugarh.â€‌ MS Srinivasan made the other high-profile visit to Numaligarh between 2002 and 2005.

“He went there when he was additional secretary but never bothered to visit again when he became secretary.â€‌ What is the purpose of Pandey’s visit “No specific agenda,â€‌ we hear, “just a courtesy call.

â€‌ Also this month, Pandey visited Cairn India’s soon-to-be-producing Rajasthan oilfields and ONGC facilities in the western desert state. What was the purpose of the visit “God knows!â€‌ a source says.

“We just made arrangements as directed.â€‌ It is well known that Pandey likes to escape the tedium of his desk.

Soon after assuming charge, he made surprise visits to the offices of ONGC, GAIL and Oil India, a major shift from the routine where chairmen normally line up outside the secretary’s office - and wait to be summoned!