In a move to allow a bureaucrat to head the state-run ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL), the government has permitted filling up of OVL managing director’s post on deputation so that the officer could go back to his service after a five-year stint. And to make the choosing process easier, the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) also decided that the OVL managing director would be picked by a search-cum-selection committee rather than the government-designated Public Enterprises Selection Board (PESB).
The ACC, on February 12, approved the “filling up of the post of OVL managing director on deputation basis in exemption from the ‘rule of immediate absorption’ through the search-cum-selection committee mode”. Sources said that Department of Public Enterprise (DPE) had earlier opposed the exemption citing December 2005 guidelines where deputation of government officers, including those from Defence Services, was not permitted in Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs).
These officers could join the posts in CPSEs only on “immediate absorption” basis meaning they would have to quit their service and join the state-run company on permanent basis. Deputation was permitted only as chief executive or regional/zonal heads in CPSEs which required continuous liaison and co-ordination with the state governments and where the expertise acquired in the state government was needed for organizational efficiency, it says.
Sources said that the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas made a strong pitch last month for placing an officer from the Indian Foreign Service as the OVL chief on grounds that it required diplomatic attributes to handle the company’s assets which are all located in foreign countries.
OVL is presently considering buying oil and gas fields from Russian joint-stock company Neftyanaya kompaniya Neftisa which operates in Tyumen, the Novosibirsk, and the Samara regions and the Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Area in Russia.
A May 2018 report of Wood Mackenzie says that though Neftisa operates more than 25,000 wells across 89 fields but most of the fields are very mature and have entered natural decline.
The February 12 order from the Department of Personnel & Training says the Search-Selection Committee would be headed by PESB chairman KD Tripathi with Petroleum Secretary MM Kutty, Oil & Natural Gas Corp chairman Shashi Shanker and ex-Indian Oil Corp chief MA Pathan as members. NDA has been using the Search-Selection route for most chairman posts where the committee — which has the PESB chairman as a member — has the option to select a person who has not even applied for the job. Last November, the ACC permitted all ministries to avoid going through the PESB or the DPE by requesting for the search-cum-selection route directly from the ACC.