Sashi Mukundan â€کtwo hats' is new BP chief in India

Vol 12, PW 20 (12 Mar 09) People & Policy

Chevron’s inability to find good â€کopportunities’ in India contrasts starkly with the growing ambition of its rival BP, which last week announced the appointment of Sashi Mukundan (left) as its new Country Head to replace Dr.

Ashok Jhawar, who retires. “My number one priority is to establish a material exploration and production business in India,â€‌ 51-year old Mukundan tells this report.

“India has been an exploration priority for BP for some time now.â€‌ BP, like Chevron, was also a â€کfarm-in’ suitor for the Reliance and GSPC discoveries in the Krishna Godavari Basin but its failure to secure either did not see it walk away from E&P in India.

Under NELP-VII, BP (30% and operator) bid alongside partner Reliance (70%) to win KG-DWN-2005/2 - a 1949-sq km shallow water block in the KG Basin where it is planning a blanket 3D survey. BP also has CBM block BB-CBM-2005/III in coal-rich West Bengal where it will spud its first corehole this month.

“Our aim is to get more E&P assets, to build a bigger business,â€‌ adds Mukundan. “This could be deepwater through NELP, farm-ins or any other means.

â€‌ For the past eight years Mukundan has held a behind-the-scenes position as BP Country Manager. His appointment as Country Head, traditionally a non-executive post, is part of a wider BP programme to phase out â€کsingle-hat’ country heads, whose primary task is to ensure that the company’s businesses work in unison and that BP’s name is not sullied in the host country.

“I’ll be a â€کtwo-hat’ Country Head,â€‌ says Mukundan, “Country Head with the usual responsibilities but I also holding day-to-day responsibility for E&P and gas business development. BP is moving away from the Country Head being part of the regional structure to being part of the key business; and in India the key business for BP is exploration and production.