Arun Kumar Singh, former chairman of oil refining and marketing company BPCL, was on Wednesday appointed chairman and managing director of ONGC -- the first instance of a retired person being appointed the head of a Maharatna PSU.
"The Appointments Committee of Cabinet (ACC) has approved the proposal of ministry of petroleum and natural gas for appointment of Arun Kumar Singh, ex-CMD, BPCL as chairman, ONGC for a three-year tenure with effect from the date of his assumption of charge of the post," an official order said.
PTI first reported of Singh's appointment on November 17.
Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) is India's top oil and gas producer.
A mechanical engineer from National Institute of Technology, Patna, Singh was director (marketing) of Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) from October 2018 to September 2021, after which he was elevated as chairman and managing director of the company.
Singh retired as BPCL head 13 months later in October 2022.
A search-cum-selection committee, constituted by the oil ministry, zeroed in on Singh after interviewing six candidates on August 27.
Singh was already selected to head the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) before the August 27 interviews.
In his nearly 38 years of experience in oil and gas industry, he has headed business units and entities in BPCL such as retail, LPG, pipelines and supply chain optimization.
He also held the position of President (Africa & Australasia) in Bharat PetroResources Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of BPCL, engaged in exploration of oil and gas, largely overseas, according to information available on BPCL website.
ONGC is without a regular chairman and managing director since April 2021 and the senior most director on the board has been entrusted with the additional charge.
Since then, the firm has seen a record three interim heads.
Singh became eligible for consideration for the job after the oil ministry relaxed age-related criteria.
Eligibility criteria for a board-level position at the PSU provide an internal candidate (applicant from within the PSU) should not be more than 58 years of age on the date of the vacancy.
The maximum age for external candidates is 57 years on the date of the vacancy.
The ministry changed it to state that any candidate to be eligible for consideration should not be more than 60 years of age on the date of occurrence of the vacancy, according to the ministry's office memorandum sent to the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) on June 17.
The vacancy arose on March 31, 2021.
This is the first ever instance of a retired person being appointed as a chairman of a Maharatna company.
None of the ONGC's existing directors or the acting chairpersons, who had become eligible for the job after the ministry relaxed the eligibility criteria, were considered fit for the position, sources said.