Consistent Delivery of Performance and Excellence

Sudhir Vasudeva
Chairman & Managing Director, ONGC
Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited (ONGC) - World’s No. 3 exploration & production company (Platts 2013) - under the leadership of its Chairman and Managing Director Sudhir Vasudeva has undergone a sea change and witnessed radical changes, giving boost to hydrocarbon landscape of the country. While going down the memory lane, he says that there have been countless moments of highs and lows through his eventful journey. For him, as a production engineer, completing a large offshore project or even witnessing any well starting production of oil has always been the ultimate professional kick. Acquiring MRPL in 2003 or receiving the first parcel of Sudanese crude are some of the special moments in his career.

How does it feel joining as a trainee and becoming as the CMD of India’s largest oil & gas company?

It has been indeed a most wonderful and fulfilling journey. For a small town boy with simple dreams of doing something meaningful in life, the last 36-37 years have been an exceedingly rewarding experience that has far exceeded my expectations to the point that all I feel now is a sense of immense satisfaction for not just having been a part of but also been accorded the chance to lead one of the most prestigious companies of the country, that is ONGC.

Having joined ONGC as a hopeful but fallow young boy in his 20s in 1976, I have grown right here – as a person and as a professional. My time with ONGC and the industry continues to be an almost inexhaustible well-head of achievements, accomplishments, pride, satisfaction, challenges, knowledge, relationships and much more.

You have been a part of ONGC’s journey and witnessed the organisation transform from E&P Company to a diversified oil & gas company. Tell us about the high & low points of ONGC during your tenure with the organisation.
It is an exceedingly enriching journey through the prism of which not only have I witnessed the transformation and manifold growth of ONGC, but also witnessed the dramatic evolution of the entire oil & gas industry of the country. The industry had undergone radical changes during the timeframe particularly after the liberalisation and globalisation of early 90s.

Within the country, the demand for energy has galloped. What used to be an exclusive space for public sector players, the oil & gas industry and the whole gamut of energy industry is now open for participation from private players as well making things more interesting and competitive in the pursuit of energy security of the country. There have been countless moments of highs and lows through this eventful journey. For me, as a production engineer, completing a large offshore project or even witnessing any well starting production of oil has always been the ultimate professional kick. Acquiring MRPL in 2003 or receiving the first parcel of Sudanese crude are also some of the special moments with which I was privileged to be associated with. Acquisition of each one of the assets of OVL has been glorious moment of success for the organisation. Recent acquisition of assets in Azerbaijan and Mozambique are among the top few ‘highs’ of my professional life.

Talking about ‘lows’, the devastating Helicopter accident or the BHN fire accident are the most depressing times in my professional career.

ONGC has been recognised as the fourth largest Indian company under your leadership. How did you steer the growth of ONGC as the Chairman & Managing Director?
ONGC is not only one of the top four companies in Indian bourses, but it is also one of the top three E&P companies in the world. Therefore, it is certainly a great privilege to have led a large, diverse and complex company like ONGC. Reaching the top slot is difficult which only comes with the constant great efforts over the years. However, holding back to the top position is even more difficult, particularly in view of the fiercely growing competition in the industry.

Though you are enabled with the dedication of the best geoscientists and professionals in the country having inherited the expertise accrued over five and half decades of the organisation, the shrinking talent pool on account of huge attrition arising from superannuation as well as resignation for greener pastures that has arisen after the liberalisation and advent of private sector in this industry is a potential threat.

As a leader of such a great company, it needs a lot of engagement with the employees, setting smart and realistic targets for them challenging their professional acumen, supporting them with the requisite technologies and managerial issues, negotiating with myriad stakeholders for their varied interests and expectations and finally envisioning a growth for the company couple of years down the line. In totality, it is an exhilarating experience.

Industry recognises you for your devotion towards development of offshore fields - a very high risk area where you successfully executed projects worth Rs 60,000 crore. Tell us more about that.
Part of this, I have just shared with you, delineating on our early days endeavours developing Mumbai High and other fields and infrastructures in western offshore.

With recovery factor still hovering below 35 per cent and field of similar vintage in Gulf of Mexico and North Sea boasting the same around 45-50 per cent, we have still a huge potential left in our matured fields. And for that through our redevelopment and rolling redevelopments plans, we are pursuing a number of projects to improve recovery as well as to arrest the natural decline. 24 such IOR & EOR projects have been planned with a total investment of over Rs 41,000 crore, 17 of which have already been completed. This is expected to give us an incremental cumulative production of 170 MMT of oil.

We are also having a number of projects developing and monetising small and new marginal fields. Through cluster approach, we are in the process of monetising 37 fields with over 280 MTOE of reserves through 13 projects with an investment of around Rs 33,000 crore. This is expected to give us an incremental cumulative production of 40 MMT of oil and 64 BCM of gas.

We are also pursuing a number of projects at realise production from deepwater of east coast as well as west coast of India. We have just commenced production from G-1 & GS-15 fields and as per the plan, we are expecting commencement of production from G-4 field (which is planned to be developed along with discoveries in the Northern Discovery Area of KG-DWN-98/2) by 2017, production from integrated development of Vasistha & S1 fields in KG deepwaters by 2015 and also from KG-DWN 98/2 by early 2017, appraisal of which is just about to complete.

Thus, while your hands are full with so much of responsibilities worth thousands of crores of rupees with immense opportunity of producing energy for the country, devotion comes flowing automatically.

ONGC has written many success stories during your tenure as Director Offshore & more after you resumed the position of the CMD – which achievement is closest to your heart (and why)?
Obviously, this journey is full of highs and lows and many a successful stories are there to tell. Simply confining those success stories to my regime or my tenure will be like denying justice or credit to the previous leaderships and to the collective endeavours of the workforce over these years.

Nonetheless, let me mention few achievements in which my direct and indirect intervention through close association mattered and which make me really proud of. “Rolling redevelopment” of Mumbai High and Heera & Neelam fields are among such achievements. Having convinced that a lot of oil is still left out in these offshore fields, I harped upon the second phase of redevelopment of Mumbai High field. Subsequently, the third phase of redevelopment is also under active consideration with all the due costbenefit analysis. My endeavour has always been to maximise recovery from these fields to the order of 40 per cent or so by 2020 from the current level of about 32 per cent of recovery factor.

Discovery of upside potential of D-1 field is another example of the conviction of my team. While doing the developmental drilling, our venturing into the unchartered area resulted in discovering a huge 142 meter of oil bearing zone taking the total In-place volume to about 140 MTOE, making it the third largest field in the western offshore. By June 2014, we will be producing around 60,000 BOPD from the current level of 12,500 BOPD.

Another great decision for which I can draw pride is the use of “Float-Over” technology. First time in the history of ONGC, two topsides – AP Deck weighing 7,800 MT & AQ Deck weighing 13,500 MT – of Process Platform under B-193 cluster project development got installed in Dec’12 by float over method. This demonstrated our project execution competency and strong appetite for risk for financial prudence.

There are many more and mentioning all of them in this space would not be possible. However, one thing I must mention that each and all of them could not have happened without a robust team work, which is the hallmark of success in ONGC. And one of my greatest achievements has been fostering a great team wherever I have been posted to.

How would you like to see your legacy at ONGC being carried forward? What are your plans for future?
Carrying forward a legacy depends on both the elements; the strength of the legacy itself as well as its acceptance to the next generations. But as this industry is very dynamic, nothing is sacrosanct or nothing should be taken for granted. Rather, legacy should always be enriched with the need of the time and space.

ONGC is a great company. Its legacy has not been created at any particular point of time, but over five and half decades of tireless dedication and services by countless employees. I am fortunate to be one of them to serve the country through this company, albeit with the privilege of being its 20th Chairman & Managing Director. At the top, you provide leadership; and at the end of the day, it is satisfying if your leadership fetches some more improvement, and add value to the legacy of your organisation. I, with my team in the company, have drawn a road map called Perspective Plan 2030 through which an ambitious plan for the company has been drawn. We aspire to double our production volumes, and in the process, making India more comfortable as far as its energy security is concerned.

Perspective Plan 2030 intends to have two-fold production growth of the group of company, which includes six fold growth in sourcing equity oil & gas through ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL). In the process, the plan also holds out the targets of three-fold growth in revenue & EBITDA and four fold growth in market capitalisation. In terms of absolute numbers, ‘PP – 2030’ entails an annual production of 130 MTOE with 60 MTOE from overseas in 2030. It also entails generation of over 6.5 GW of power from various renewable sources including nuclear, solar and wind; creating additional 9 MMPTA of LNG capacity; scaling up refining capacity to 21 MMPTA . And all these targets need an investment of the order of Rs 11 lakh crore.

This grandiose plan has been drawn by a team comprised of a thoughtful mix of senior and young officers, especially some selected few who would be serving the company till 2030 and beyond. Therefore, I am quite hopeful that the legacy etched out during my tenure will be carried forward with adequate zeal for a brighter future in the years to come.

What is your message to the Indian hydrocarbon industry?
In the context of the current scenario and the future energy world that is unfolding, my message would be simple – ‘Consistent delivery of Performance’ and ‘Excellence’ will define our future.

I know the road ahead looks challenging, but considering our long history of proven abilities and excellence, and counting the demographic dividend of the country, I am sure Indian hydrocarbon industry is quite capable of placing India among the foremost countries in the global energy spectrum.