Raghav Pandey takes over as petroleum secretary

August 1st, 2008 - 3:57 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 1 (IANS) Raghav Sharan Pandey took charge as the petroleum secretary Friday, promising he would try balancing the “health” of both oil companies and consumers during his tenure. An Indian Administrative Service officer of the 1972 batch in the Nagaland cadre, Pandey was previously posted as steel secretary.

He takes over from M.S. Srinivasan who retired Thursday.

After being greeted by senior officers in the petroleum and natural gas ministry, Pandey came to office on the second floor of Shastri Bhawan that houses several ministries, and took charge in front of a battery of photographers and camera persons.

“This is a very challenging sector,” he told reporters after meeting petroleum minister Murli Deora.

Observing that there were “demand and supply issues”, Pandey said with the economy growing, demand will continue to rise exponentially. “We will have to augment our supply both domestically and from outside,” he said.

Pandey said “health of oil companies” was “very important”, and added: “If they are not healthy, how will they service the country?”

In this context, he noted that revenues from this sector accounted for 15 percent of India’s gross domestic product.

Oil companies are currently facing severe liquidity crunch, having exhausted their existing lines of credit, while the oil bonds for the next quarter have yet to be issued.

For instance, the country’s leading oil company Indian Oil Corp Wednesday announced a 71 percent drop in first quarter net profits this fiscal, as compared to its profits in the corresponding period last year.

At the same time, Pandey said the “health of consumers” have also to be taken into consideration, referring to the prices, availability and distribution of petroleum products.

He acknowledged it would be a “tough time to balance the conflict”.

Pandey takes charge after a month of intense political activity in the capital, during which the United Progressive Alliance government’s new ally, the Samajwadi Party (SP), had shown keen interest in the policies of the petroleum ministry.

SP leaders have trained guns on petroleum minister Deora, claiming that he had showed favours to the Mukesh Ambani-headed Reliance Petroleum by declaring its Jamnagar refinery was an export-oriented unit at a time when the country was grappling with high fuel prices.

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