The Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH), which plays the crucial role of technical watchdog in the oil and gas sector, would remain without a full-time head for the next few months at least, since its director-general BN Talukdar was superannuated on June 30. This is because the nodal petroleum ministry is yet to decide on guidelines for recruiting a new head.
Meanwhile, Ajay Prakash Sawhney, a 1984-based IAS officer and currently additional secretary at the petroleum ministry, would be looking after the role of DGH head.
Sources told FE that the petroleum ministry is in talks with the department of personnel and training (DoPT) for outlining the guidelines for selecting the DGH. “The final decision is yet to be made,” said an official privy to the development. Once the guidelines are announced, it would take several weeks for the selection process to be completed.
Industry watchers feel that the DGH should be a person with experience in the oil and gas industry rather than a career bureaucrat. This is because hydrocarbon exploration, being a tedious and cost-intensive job, cannot be governed by an inflexible rule book. The regulator’s opinion also prevails on whether or not to extend production sharing contracts (PSC) and it is mandated to approve costs and acceptance of the declaration of commerciality (DoC). The DGH looks after multi-billion dollar exploration programmes; its nod is mandatory for all field development plans that is needed for explorers to monetise a hydrocarbon asset. The Narendra Modi government has offered more powers to the DGH to decide on pleas from exploration companies.