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R K Singh the next chief of Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL)  

NEW DELHI: The wheel has come a full circle for the state-run oil industry. Almost a decade after IndianOil Corporation's Subir Raha was moved to take over the reins of flagship explorer Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, the government on Wednesday chose ONGC Videsh managing director Ranbir Singh Butola as the next helmsman of India's largest refining and fuel marketing firm.

Butola's selection by the government's headhunter, Public Enterprises Selection Board, follows Tuesday's pick for the next chief of Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL). R K Singh, 57, who is at present director (refineries) in the company, will succeed Ashok Sinha as the chairman of the second-largest state refiner-marketer that has been at the vanguard of many fuel marketing initiatives such as the `Pure for Sure' campaign.

Both Singh and Butola will be part of a complete change of leadership in government oil companies that started with Subir Roychoudhuri taking over from Arun Balakrishnan as chairman of Hindustan Petroleum on August 1. The government is now left with the task of picking a successor to ONGC chairman R S Sharma, who will retire on January 31, to complete the change in leadership. In between, it will also have to select five-six directors for all these firms.

Butola, 56, is credited with putting India on global energy map with successful acquisitions such as Russia-focused Imperial Energy and stakes in acreages in Egypt and Latin America. A post-graduate in business management and a certified member of the Indian Institute of Bankers, Butola worked in a nationalised bank and also functioned as OSD to then internal security minister Rajesh Pilot. He has been ONGC Videsh MD since May 2004.

Butola will take over from B M Bansal, who has been officiating as IndianOil chairman since February after the government denied extension to Sarthak Behuria on completion of his five-year term. At BPCL, Singh will take over from Sinha, who resigned after it appeared that he, too, was likely to receive the same treatment.

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