EXCLUSIVE: Video confirms Indian Oil looking at asset monetisation of pipelines

  • PSU Watch is the first news organisation to report on Indian Oil asset monetisation

  • Government has asked Indian Oil to prepare asset monetisation plan, pipeline business explicitly, say sources

New Delhi: Days after PSU Watch reported that the government could be considering hiving off Indian Oil pipelines, a new video accessed by us shows that Indian Oil could indeed be looking at asset monetisation. In the video, Director (Pipelines) Akshay Kumar Singh is seen speaking about a directive from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to Indian Oil to consider “asset monetisation.” Throughout the video, even though Singh does not refer to the Indian Oil pipeline business explicitly, he speaks about the asset monetisation plan proposed by the PMO. However, since he holds the position of Director (Pipelines) at Indian Oil, the asset monetisation plan could be a possible reference to the plans pertaining to the pipeline business. According to sources, a plan to hive off Indian Oil’s pipeline business is already being considered and discussions are on in this regard.

Indian Oil asset monetisation: What does the video say?

The video shows the Board of Directors and Indian Oil CMD Sanjiv Singh seated around a conference table. Akshay Kumar Singh is seen saying, “There was a directive from our PMO… asset monetisation. That there is a new concept. They are telling that whatever asset is there… infrastructure is there… you place it to some other private player. They become the owner of that asset (sic).” “Suppose Rs 6,000 crore per year you are earning. So, for 25 years, again bring in MPV. So, the total works out to be Rs 30,000 crore. Someone will give you Rs 30,000 crore.

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He becomes the owner of that asset and you become the contractor. You operate and maintain as you used to do, but the ownership goes to the private player. And you are supposed to return a pre-decided return to him (sic),” he adds.

The origin of the video

The duration of the video is a little over two minutes and shows only Indian Oil Director (Pipelines) speaking all along. According to two different sources, the video is from a meeting of the Board of Directors at Indian Oil. While PSU Watch could not ascertain the date of the meeting, they said that the video was leaked on Indian Oil’s internal website around December 14 and then removed after it was noticed by employees. After the video surfaced, the Indian Oil Officers’ Association also wrote a letter to the management, asking for a clarification on the same. Sources said that Indian Oil Director (HR) Ranjan Kumar Mohapatra had then cited his inability to share the details of the meeting and had ended the meeting saying that no such plan was underway at the time.

What does management say?

In an official response, the management has said that no board meeting took place in the month of December, but the topic of “asset monetisation” could have been discussed at a divisional or unit-level internal meeting. Kalikrishna M, Executive Director (Corporate Communications) at Indian Oil, said, “I am not aware of the video you are referring to. I can only clarify that no Board meeting of Indian Oil was held this month (December) nor any issue concerning monetisation of the pipelines business was discussed in any of the Board meetings of Indian Oil at all. What you are referring to could be an internal meeting at the divisional or unit level where topics mentioned by you may have been alluded to in the course of a general discussion. As you are aware, I have already clarified on the issue and the same has been carried prominently as part of your earlier news story on the subject on December 18, 2019.” Another source, however, said that the issue of the leaked video and its contents has been flagged to the Indian Oil CMD and he is expected to address it in his New Year’s message to the employees.

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