Boundless Energy - Sashi Mukundan

Sashi Mukundan with Narendra Modi

As Regional President and Head of Country, India, BP Group, Sashi Mukundan leads the upstream business in India and oversees the wider operations of all BP Group companies in the country. He was closely involved in forging the landmark partnership between BP and Reliance Industries Ltd. across the gas value chain, culminating in the largest foreign direct investment into India to date.
 
With over 34 years of experience in strategic planning, finance and commercial business development in a variety of assignments in the US and Asia, he is currently responsible for strengthening BP’s portfolio in India.
 
As the Head of Country for the BP Group in India, you have overseen many achievements and milestones, one of them being the landmark partnership between BP and Reliance Industries. Tell us more about the deal and its outcome.   
 
The BP-Reliance partnership is both historic and unique. For the first time it brings together BP’s technology, global skills and experience with Reliance’s ability to swiftly and efficiently execute large projects in India. This is history in the making for BP, Reliance and India. It helps build a material business for BP in India. It also brings about the much needed scope and scale in providing energy to fuel India’s economic growth aspirations.
 
Regional President and Head of Country, India, BP Group, Sashi Mukundan 
 
The successful working relationship between the Reliance and BP teams has, in these last five years, helped in discovering two new energy resources. We are at various stages of developing the discovered natural gas which will help reduce imports by close to US $50 billion– nearly Rs 3 lakh crore in next five years.
 
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?
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. With its broad portfolio of energy products, BP stands ready to support India with the latest fuels, technology, and skills development as India emerges as a global economic powerhouse.
 
 Regional President and Head of Country, India, BP Group, Sashi Mukundan with Family
 
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 and 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. The government needs to focus and act as an enabler, maintain sanctity of contracts, and let public/private capital get to work for India.
 
You were out of the country for 20 years before coming back in 2000. How much has the sector evolved since then? Why did you choose to return after two decades, and why did you choose BP?
I left India in 1980 to go to graduate school in the US.
 
After spending 20 years of my life there I came back to India in 2000. In the three decades with BP, I firmly identify with the company as it stands for what I believe. Its core values of safety, respect, excellence, courage and one team are tenets that we use in day-to-day life as well. It is all so simple, but effective indeed.
 
Like many others, I wanted to come back to India and make a mark in the energy space for India and BP. I always felt that India would be one of the last few giant markets left in the world with potential and talent, and it was important that BP was the first mover here. The Indian oil and gas sector has come a long way in these 15 years. However, it has a long way to go before we can claim success!
 
What is the potential of India’s upstream sector for international oil companies, if regulation and policy are aligned?
I feel the potential of India lies in the application of newer technologies and skills to extract more oil and gas in the deeper water and new unexplored areas.
 
Oil and gas production activities in India should concentrate on four key areas.There are immediate opportunities to develop the already discovered oil and gas resources to almost double India’s current gas production by 2022, replacing imported gas worth more than US $100 billion to the nation. Secondly, there is a need to increase investment in order to improve oil and gas recovery,