BC Tripathi Joins Essar Exploration & Production Mauritius As Non-Executive Chairman
BC Tripathi, former chairman and managing director of Gail India Ltd., listens during a news conference in New Delhi, India. (Photographer: Graham Crouch/Bloomberg)

BC Tripathi Joins Essar Exploration & Production Mauritius As Non-Executive Chairman

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Bhuwan Chandra Tripathi, former chairman and managing director of state-owned GAIL (India) Ltd., has joined Ruia-family owned Essar as a non-executive chairman of the group’s Mauritius-based oil and gas firm.

"Essar Capital Ltd., the investment manager of Essar Global Fund Ltd., has appointed Tripathi as the non-executive chairman of Essar Exploration and Production Ltd. Mauritius and board member of Essar Oil U.K. Ltd.," it said in a statement.

EEPLM and EOUKL hold key energy assets in ECL's investment portfolio. EOUKL's main asset is the Stanlow oil refinery in the U.K. "Tripathi's induction signals EGFL's renewed interest in the energy sector. He will drive the investment strategy and play a key role in providing strategic direction to EGFL," the statement said.

Tripathi "is one of the foremost energy strategists in the country. He is credited with transforming GAIL into a multi-asset multinational portfolio company," the statement said. PTI reported the move on Jan. 14.

"A person of Tripathi's caliber is an invaluable addition to our leadership team. His exemplary track record in India's energy sector will help EGFL grow and add significant value to our energy investments globally," said Prashant Ruia, Director-Essar Capital.

EGFL has invested significantly in conventional and non-conventional oil and gas fields across the world through EEPLM, which manages these investments as an early-stage developer. It has participating interests in conventional oil and gas acreages in India, Vietnam and Nigeria, with an overall resource base of 3.4 barrels of oil equivalent.

EEPLM, through its subsidiary Essar Oil & Gas Exploration & Production Ltd., is India's largest operator of unconventional hydrocarbon acreages located across key sedimentary basins in the country. These acreages have a resource base of 15 trillion cubic feet and include both coal bed methane and shale reserves.

"EGFL is among the only Indian funds whose investments straddle the entire hydrocarbon value chain, comprising upstream exploration and production, midstream refining and downstream retail globally. I look forward to contributing to the future direction of India's oil and gas economy, in which Essar continues to be a key player," Tripathi on his appointment.

The government had in July last year denied Tripathi an extension of service as Chairman and Managing Director of GAIL India Ltd till he reached his superannuation age six months later.

Tripathi, 59, who was the youngest person to become a chairman of an oil and gas public sector undertaking in August 2009, completed his second five-year term on July 31 and was eligible for an extension till his date of superannuation in January 2020. But, the government declined an extension.

As per the government rules, any functional director of a PSU denied an extension of service for reasons other than vigilance is not governed by a mandatory one-year cooling-off period.

"No functional director of the company including the chief executive who has retired/resigned from the service of the company, after such retirement/ resignation, shall accept any appointment or post, whether advisory or administrative, in any firm or company, whether Indian or foreign, with which the company has or had business relations, within one year from the date of retirement without prior approval of the government," the rule states.

This, however, does not apply to those who are denied an extension for reasons other than proven misconduct. "The term retirement includes resignation; but not in cases where the term of appointment was not extended by the government for reasons other than proven misconduct," the department of public enterprises' latest circular issued in April 2018 states.

Tripathi was appointed chairman and managing director of GAIL by the Congress-led UPA government in 2009, for an initial five-year term. His extension was due to be reviewed in 2014, but the United Progressive Alliance government in October 2013 approved another five-year term till July 31, 2019.

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Prior to taking over as Chief Managing Director, Tripathi had served as Director of Marketing at GAIL from July 2007 to July 31, 2009. NTPC Ltd. Chairman Arup Roy Choudhury was denied an extension in August 2015 during the first term of the Narendra Modi government even though he had two years to go before retirement.

In the oil sector, ONGC chairman Subir Raha, GAIL chairman Proshanto Benerjee, Bharat Petroleum chief Ashok Sinha and Indian Oil Corp. chairman Sarthak Behuria were all denied extensions.

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