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Behind ONGC’s declining production are field officers waiting for promotion, leaves, allowances: Sources

Sources have claimed that the ONGC management’s failure to address a slew of issues raised by field officers over time has affected the morale of employees, impacting production

Behind ONGC’s declining production are field officers waiting for promotion, leaves, allowances: Sources
Behind ONGC’s declining production are field officers waiting for promotion, leaves, allowances: Sources
  • Technical officers who have joined in 2000-02 are still working at E5 grade, while their peers in the Finance and HR department have been promoted to E7 grade, said sources

  • In a letter dated February 25, ASTO raised the issue of non-payment of compensation to officers working in the field operations, which has been pending for two and a half years

New Delhi: If sources are to be believed, the restructuring plan for state-run Oil & Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) is said to have been born out of the government’s frustration with the Maharatna oil major’s inability to meet production targets year after year, despite being endowed with some of the most productive oil fields. However, within the company, several sources, who spoke to PSU Watch on the condition of anonymity, have claimed that the ONGC management’s failure to address a slew of issues raised by technical and scientific officers posted onshore and offshore over time has affected the morale of employees, impacting the production and performance of the company.

The news comes just days after PSU Watch had reported the details of a restructuring plan proposed by the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH), which will effectively see ONGC being reduced to the role of an ‘enabler’ in the sector instead of a leading exploration and production (E&P) company. According to sources in the Petroleum Ministry, miffed by ONGC’s failure to raise production of crude oil and natural gas at a time when India is faced with the need to reduce its reliance on OPEC for meeting its energy requirements, the government has asked ONGC to bring in private players for difficult oil fields with ‘high prospectivity’ and monetise or disinvest marginal producing fields and stranded assets and discoveries.

So, what’s happening at ONGC?

According to multiple sources, who spoke to PSU Watch on the condition of anonymity, one of the major issues raised by employees has been that of promotion. “At a company formed with the objective of increasing India’s domestic oil and natural gas production, officers engaged in exploration and production are waiting to be promoted, while their peers have in the Finance and the HR department have been promoted. Technical officers who have joined in 2000-02 are still working at E5 grade, while their peers in the Finance and HR department have been promoted to E7 grade. This issue has been raised with the management several times, but no redressal has been done,” said a senior official at ONGC.

The COVID-19 crisis

During the peak of the COVID-19 crisis, operations at ONGC continued as usual since it was engaged in an essential service. This meant that crew movements continued at ONGC’s offshore and onshore locations but due to restrictions on movement, crew change, which otherwise happens at a duration of 14 days, was stretched for longer periods. Sources claimed that some of the employees were stationed offshore for 60 days at a stretch before ONGC arranged chartered flights to bring them back. “And despite this, compensatory leave and allowances have been put on hold,” said one of the sources who spoke to PSU Watch.

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In a letter addressed to the ONGC CMD, dated February 8, the Association of Scientific and Technical Officers (ASTO) at ONGC said, “Long duration of duty has had a major impact on the health of the officers and has also resulted in fatigue. Number of ASTO units of concerned work centres have already represented in this regard. In view of the present Covid protocols issued by GOI and keeping the health condition of Officers in view, it is requested that the duty pattern for ON/Off be reverted back to 14 days immediately.”

In another letter, dated February 25, ASTO raised the issue of non-payment of compensation to officers working in the field operations. It said, “Sir, we have been relentlessly updating you on this issue for last two and a half years. We have made so many representations till date. We are therefore once again approaching you for resolution of this important issue. We therefore again request that the statutory payments be made to the officers working in field operations w.e.f. 01.01.2017.”

Sources claimed that there are several such issues that have been taken up with the management time and again. “For instance, the issue of providing standard protective gear to field employees, technical upgradation of oil rigs that ought to retire now, etc. But the issues raised by us have remained unattended for such a long period of time that it has started affecting the morale of the employees. We feel as if the management is apathetic to us,” said one of the sources quoted above. 

PSU Watch tried to reach out to the ONGC management to get a comment on the story, however, no response was received by the time the story was published. This story will be updated when an official response is received.

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