By Our Staff Reporter
Dehradun, 26 Feb: ONGC Director, Finance, Subhash Kumar will replace Shashi Shanker when he retires on 31 March, 2021. According to a well-placed source, Kumar will take charge as interim chairman until the oil ministry holds interviews to find a permanent replacement, most likely through a specially constituted independent search committee. The source adds that Kumar is the next longest-serving director on ONGC’s board after Shanker, explaining why the oil ministry has chosen him. Kumar took charge as ONGC, Director, Finance, on 31 January, 2018, after resigning as Director, Finance, at Petronet-LNG, which he joined (from ONGC) on 5 August, 2017.
Still unclear is when the government will hold interviews for a new ONGC Chairman: the PESB is still headless – nobody knows when the government will appoint a new chair. Last year, the PESB began the selection process to replace Shanker and set 11 May, 2020, as the application deadline, but because of Covid-19 extended it to 30 June and then to 15 July, 2020. In August 2020, interviews should have taken place, but the process came to a grinding halt when PESB Chairman Rajiv Kumar became Election Commissioner on 1 September, 2020.
As everyone waits to see who replaces Kumar, the oil ministry is reportedly looking to set up an independent search committee to accelerate the ONGC chairman interviews.
If the oil ministry sets up a search committee, expect it to throw the race open to candidates from the private sector. From within ONGC, Director of technology and field services, Om Prakash Singh, has the best chance as he is the only director with two years before retiring after taking charge as a director on 1 April, 2020. Singh is also Shanker’s protege. But some argue it could be counter-productive for Singh if Shanker lobbies for him.
Unconfirmed rumours also circulate that the government might appoint joint secretary, exploration, Amar Nath as ONGC Chairman. An unofficial list of 13 promising candidates for the ONGC Chairman’s job, including Om Prakash Singh, is still circulating on social media. On the list, first seen by this report in September 2020, is MRPL Director Finance Pomila Jaspal and ONGC executive directors Sandeep Gupta, Pankaj Kumar and Omkar Nath Giani.