Singh, who superannuated from the oil refining and fuel marketing company on October 31, is the first retired person to be appointed as head of a state-run company and sets a precedence for future appointments in public sector undertakings.
He will be the second person from the ‘downstream’, or refining industry, to head ONGC, an ‘upstream’, or exploration company after Subir Raha, who had moved from IndianOil in 2001.
Singh assumed charge as ONGC chairman within hours of the government order in the company’s Mumbai office instead of the company headquarters in Delhi and immediately held a video conference with other directors on the board.
So far, ONGC head was designated as CMD, combining the functions of chairman and managing director. But Singh’s appointment order says only chairman, which has left the window open for the government to appoint an MD. The 3-year tenure is also a first since PSU board appointments are made for five years or the superannuation age of 60, whichever is earlier.
ONGC has been without a full-time head since April 2021 after Shashi Shanker retired.
A mechanical engineer from National Institute of Technology, Patna, Singh was director (marketing) of Bharat Petroleum from October 2018 to September 2021 before being elevated as the company’s CMD.
A search-cum-selection committee set up by the oil ministry recommended his name for the ONGC top job after interviewing six candidates on August 27. At the time, Singh had already been recommended by the government headhunter PESB for the post of Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board chairman.
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 optimisation.
He also served as President (Africa & Australasia) in Bharat PetroResources Ltd, BPCL’s upstream subsidiary.