Sarthak Behuria, former chairman of Navaratna PSU Indian Oil Corporation, is an avid golf and bridge player. But clearly the cards were stacked against him at IOC, as the government denied extending his tenure as chairman in Feburary 2010 until superannuation in 2012. Since his early retirement last year, Behuria, who has won accolades in the oil industry during a career spanning over 37 years, has kept a low profile.
However, the market is abuzz after recent news of his appointment as an independent director on the board of Jet Airways. That’s an interesting move for someone who was head of an aviation fuel supplier and spent considerable time trying to recover dues from defaulting airlines.
Behuria has yet to receive official confirmation of his appointment, so he declined to divulge details of this new assignment. But he is confident it would provide him an opportunity to use his expertise not only in the oil industry, but in various other sectors.
Behuria was among the ten contenders for the top job at Petronet LNG. However, he was not ultimately selected. Nevertheless, he has been appointed an advisor to Petronet by its new CMD, Ashok Balyan.
Oil industry veterans still recall his role in transforming IOC into a Navaratna, with a turnover of $62.3 billion in 2008-09. Under his stewardship, the PSU was transformed into an integrated and diversified transnational energy company, through strategic initiatives across the hydrocarbon value chain. It was Behuria who took the initiative to concentrate on the petrochemical segment, in addition to the refining and marketing of oil. He was also instrumental in getting the board's approval for an over Rs60,000-crore investment up to 2014 in petrochemicals alone.
An alumnus of St Stephen’s College, New Delhi, and Indian Institute of Management-Ahmadabad, Behuria joined Burmah Shell in 1973, before being absorbed by Bharat Petroleum Corporation, where he rose to become chairman & managing director.
He also served in the erstwhile oil coordination committee of the ministry of petroleum & natural gas. Behuria was elected the first vice-president of the World LP Gas Association in 2006-08 and subsequently became its president.