Pasrija angers ministry meeting with Iraq boast

Vol 14, PW 13 (16 Dec 10) People & Policy
     

Prize Petroleum managing director Mulkh Raj Pasrija seems to be irritating everyone from top bosses at Hindustan Petroleum to oil secretary S.

Sundareshan. PETROWATCH learns brash Pasrija made several gaffes during a meeting at the oil ministry in Delhi on November 18.

Chaired by Sundareshan, the meeting was about “overseas investments by Indian oil companies” and attended by 25 people, including joint secretaries, ministry directors and chairmen of state-owned oil companies. “Pasrija was loud,” says a source that attended, “and kept trying to impress everyone.

” Pasrija, he adds, boldly suggested Indian oil companies should invest in the Iraqi refinery sector, claiming he is “regularly approached by companies and individuals who can ‘facilitate’ the entry of Indian oil companies into Iraq.” Unable to bear the long-winded speech, Sundareshan asked Pasrija why those “companies and individuals” are approaching him and not ONGC Videsh managing director RS Butola, also present at the meeting.

“Pasrija replied that he has very ‘good connections’,” we hear, “given his vast experience and knowledge of the industry.” Pasrija also “reminded” Sundareshan he is the former chairman of Oil India and “made these useful ‘contacts’ during that time”.

He then shocked everyone by offering to act as a ‘facilitator’ for companies who want to work in Iraq! When contacted, Pasrija confirmed he had attended the November 18 ministry meeting but refused to comment further. Pasrija’s performance comes as his red-faced bosses at HPCL continue to fume over rumours he was trying to ‘help’ first Shiv Vani and now Swan Energy buy the 45% stake held in Prize by ICICI bank and the 5% stake held by HDFC bank.

HPCL, which holds a 50% stake in Prize, has given Pasrija an ultimatum to find an interested buyer for the ICICI and HDFC stakes by March, 2011. If he fails, HPCL will step in and buy those stakes itself.

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