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New chairman & managing director of Bharat Petroleum Corporation  

Oil in the veins…

Sometimes, competition — or the lack of it — can work in your favour. That’s what R K Singh, the new chairman & managing director of Bharat Petroleum Corporation (BPCL), discovered. With many of his peers — BPCL directors like S Radhakrishnan (marketing), S K Joshi (finance) and S Mohan (HR) scheduled to retire in 2011, there weren’t too many contenders for the top job.Sure, there were a couple of candidates from the oil industry, but Singh was the “most competent and serious contender”, say BPCL insiders. “He was the only internal candidate, and the only oil industry person to have exposure across three aspects of the value chain: refining, marketing and exploration,” said a BPCL official.

Singh led a team that negotiated with Encana of Canada and acquired assets in Brazil, where major oil discoveries have been announced. He was part of a core team that led BPCL’s upstream focus and acquired 27 exploration blocks (and discovered oil or gas in five of them — two in Brazil, two in Mozambique, and one in Indonesia).Analysts say BPCL’s upstream success is the reason why its stock quotes at a premium (Rs 702) to rival HPCL’s (Rs 418) -- asset-wise, four years ago both companies were at the same level. As director (refineries), Singh also played a key role in the Bharat Oman Refinery Project at Bina, which will go on stream in January.

A BTech in mechanical engineering from Banaras Hindu University, Singh had a short stint in the private sector before joining BPCL in 1978 in the refining division. In a career span of over three decades, he has held various positions, including supply & distribution, consumer sales and LPG in the marketing division, and maintenance & inspection and process and R&D in the refining division. ‘He’s a very down-to-earth person, extremely intelligent and has very good people skills,’’ says a senior executive at BPCL. A director, who has worked with him, says he’s good task-master and is able to get things done. Given his experience, Singh was also tipped for the top post at Indian Oil Corporation. IOC’s loss was BPCL’s gain when he decided to stay back in Mumbai. The challenge for Singh would be to follow his more illustrious predecessors like U Sundararajan and Ashok Sinha and keep the fires burning.

by…Ranju Sarkar in the Business Standard newspaper…

Business Standard

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