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Dinesh Sarraf to be next ONGC chief



Updated On - Sunday, 01 September 2013

31 August 2013

NEW DELHI: The Public Enterprises Selection Board on Friday recommended Dinesh K Sarraf as the next head of the country's most valuable company, Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC). The government headhunter's decision signals support for the ONGC Videsh MD's aggressive stance on overseas acquisitions and preference for a person with a clean image to steer a company with $6-7 billion annual expenditure.

Sarraf, 56, was director (finance) in ONGC before taking over the reins of the company's overseas investment arm. 

A post-graduate in commerce from Delhi's Shri Ram College of Commerce, he will succeed Sudhir Vasudeva, who superannuates in February next year. 

Sarraf hides a no-nonsense personality behind his humble demeanour. He is known as an honest person and a hard taskmaster, with an eye for detail as well as ability to read between the lines. As the head of ONGC Videsh, he changed the company's "sarkari" mindset to push acquisitions worth over $11 billion in the past one year alone against the company's $17-billion investments made in 32 assets in 15 countries till 2011. 

Last week, Sarraf sealed a deal to buy US energy major Anadarko Petroleum Corporation's 10% stake in a giant Mozambique gas field for $2.64 billion. In June, he finalized up a $2.4-billion transaction to buy Videocon's 10% stake in the same field, which may hold as much as 65 tcf (trillion cubic feet) of gas reserves. 

The choice of ONGC head is always watched closely by the oil industry, especially by the various field and technical service providers, due to the company's mammoth annual capital expenditure outlay. Selection of Sarraf clearly indicates the government's desire to clean up the huge contracting system. 

But as ONGC chairman, Sarraf's main task would be to increase oil and gas production from domestic fields and quickly bring to production new finds that are running behind schedule. He would also need to improve the working of company board as a cohesive unit and drive the company to find tangible oil and gas reserves. 

Sarraf has experience of almost three decades in the oil and gas industry.

Published by: The Times Of India

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