Excerpts from one of Sashi Mukundan’s recent interviews where as Regional President of BP India he talks about his belief in India's potential which he would like to share with all.
Q: India is one of the world’s fastest growing oil and gas markets. What are your forecasts for the next five years for both India and BP? Also, can you comment on the Prime Minister’s call for a ‘fresh look at the petroleum sector’ as the government looks for solutions to address increasing energy consumption?
A: I welcome the vision of Prime Minister Modi. More than 50% of India’s population is below 25 years of age and over 75% below the age of 35. This is a group of young people looking for India to provide the fundamental base to allow entrepreneurship and creativity to flourish! The resurgence is coming from the development of large scale infrastructure in terms of 100-plus smart cities, cross country business and industrial corridors, knowledge parks and highways. All of this requires energy in various quantities, forms and shape.
The government is taking a fresh look at the oil and gas sector to ensure we enable activities to find and develop all forms of energy in India efficiently and quickly. Fortunately, we have a unique window of opportunity to get things right during this low oil price environment. I believe it is crunch time for the Indian government to re-energise the flow of investments in oil and gas exploration and development. Maintaining the status quo will lead to further imports and balance of payments woes. All the government needs to do is to act as an enabler, maintain sanctity of contracts, and let public/private capital get to work for India.
Q: What is the potential of India’s upstream sector for international oil companies, if regulation and policy are aligned?
A: I feel the potential of India’s upstream lies in the application of newer technologies and skills to extract more oil and gas, and to find newer resources in the deep water and frontier areas. Upstream oil and gas production activities in India should concentrate on four key areas. There are immediate opportunities to develop the already discovered resources to almost double India’s current gas production by 2022, replacing imported gas worth more than $100 billion. Secondly, there is a need to increase investment in order to improve oil and gas recovery, because even a 1% increase in oil recovery can add almost about 500 million barrels in additional reserves. Unconventional resources are a third critical zone, where shale gas and tight oil are the two frontier areas. Finally, strategic thinking and execution at the basin level are needed.
These resources, when developed, will promote and support the Prime Minister’s call for import substitution and skills development for the Make in India campaign in the oil and gas sector, now and forever.
India’s significant untapped oil and natural gas resources hold real potential to make an ever increasing contribution in the future.
Q: What is one key parameter in the government’s success in reducing the country’s dependence on imports? How can the domestic oil and gas industry in India be encouraged?
A: India’s significant untapped oil and natural gas resources hold real potential to make an ever increasing contribution in the future. To bring this resource to market, a proper investment inflow is required, along with technology transfer, infrastructure, and capability build-ups. Market distortions must be rectified, fiscal and contract stability is needed, and the right incentives need to be put in place to attract this scale of energy players and investment.
Q: What is the single most important lesson you have learned in your years as a business professional?
A: Be humble and respect others. I am a strong believer in people, and I am what I am today because of the team that works around me and supports me through thick and thin! No one individual can be successful on his or her own. People – not assets – make a company great. Take two companies from the same industry – airlines, hotels, petrol pumps – the difference is not only in the quality of the product, but in the attitude and disposition of the people who truly reflect the company’s values.
The views expressed here are personal and those of the author.