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Former CMDs of ONGC deliberated on how to make the oil & gas sector future-ready during the panel discussion with Chairman of Independent Energy Policy Institute Narendra Taneja at the 9th edition of World Energy Policy Summit 2022 on 4 February 2022. The panel discussion on “How to Make India’s Oil and Gas State Enterprises Future-Ready” included former ONGC CMDs R S Sharma and Subhash Kumar and Former CMD of GAIL (India) BC Tripathi.

Former ONGC CMD R S Sharma said that the support and guidance to make the E&P sector future-ready should come from the main promoter – the government, which shall give the right kind of motivation to the functional Board and the management to carry on the agenda in the pronounced way.

Former ONGC CMDs RS Sharma and Subhash Kumar interacting with Chairman of Independent Energy Policy Institute Narendra Taneja, along with Former CMD of GAIL (India) BC Tripathi
Former ONGC CMDs RS Sharma and Subhash Kumar interacting with Chairman of Independent Energy Policy Institute Narendra Taneja, along with Former CMD of GAIL (India) BC Tripathi

Mr Sharma mentioned that all plans regarding being future-ready like being sustainability, induction of technologies, strong governance, etc. should go across the policy makers at the top level. He noted that people at large don’t realize how the oil & gas PSUs are sustaining the economy of the country. He mentioned that the downstream companies ensure that there is no shortage of energy in any corner of the country despite the large landscape and vast population. “That stability that they bring is indeed unique. Even during any natural calamity, the oil PSUs are way ahead to support the cause, like we recently witnessed during the pandemic,” he added.

Former ONGC CMDs RS Sharma during the panel discussion at WEPS 2022
Former ONGC CMDs RS Sharma during the panel discussion at WEPS 2022

He further mentioned that amidst such contributions, a statement coming from the petroleum minister that government has no business to be in business shall perhaps is not in the interest of the existence for the oil PSUs. “I believe sooner the correction will come at the top level. Because, the owner is the government of India and they have to realize and understand that without these PSUs it will be difficult to sustain and grow the economy in times to come,” said the former CMD of the national oil company.

Former ONGC CMD Subhash Kumar stated that as per management, government has come up with some enablers policies, citing how today even regulators are facilitators. “To grow into world-class entities, like ONGC, IOCL and BPCL are already among Fortune 500 companies, two aspects should be focused on to catapult the growth – singular ministry dealing with a single PSU, to enable the management to concentrate and focus on day-to-day functions and technology is another core area,” he added.

Mr Kumar noted that, in terms of alliance, India can be the unique country from oil & gas perspective. Regarding technologies, he mentioned that there had been a major focus on exploration, despite the lowered investments, which is a selective focus on technologies and more investments on studies rather than drilling.

Former ONGC CMD Subhash Kumar addressing the virtual gathering
Former ONGC CMD Subhash Kumar addressing the virtual gathering

Mr Kumar cited his recent interactions with global leaders at the ADIPEC to state that alliance with other partner companies across the globe is another key aspect for the oil & gas sector to grow. “From that perspective we should build alliances and ONGC has already taken path-breaking initiatives to reach the world energy sector and bring them to fasten our operations,” he said.

Mr Kumar asserted that it is positive that what is likely to be produced in the country will be consumed and we need to focus on lowering our imports. He said it is not much of a concern that the finances have been drying, becoming a challenge, rather we can prepare today to retain the surpluses to capitalize on.

Former Chairman & Managing Director of GAIL (India) Ltd B C Tripathi said that the focus should be on looking out at the governance mechanism of the Indian PSUs. “We need revive the Board structure by bringing in more professionalism. To be future-ready, it should be understood that oil and gas companies will be playing a major role for the next two to three decades despite the energy transition. The transition will happen but we should have a clear-cut, well-defined sustainability vison documents to draw the roadmap for the three decades of transition,” he said.

Former GAIL CMD BC Tripathi ways to make oil & gas sector future-ready
Former GAIL CMD BC Tripathi ways to make oil & gas sector future-ready

He added that the transition is rapid and the vision documents should be revisited in regular intervals since the challenge is to remain competitive and relevant during the transition. Mr Tripathi further added that investment to new technologies should be in the major priority. “We need new forms of energy which are more clear and environment-friendly and these are all led by the emerging technologies,” said Mr Tripathi, adding, “There is a big push into bio-fuels, green molecules like green hydrogen, gray hydrogen, ammonia, carbon capture, etc. and our focus should be on investing on these areas.”



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