Says an ONGC director: "The idea is to have an integrated oil and gas company with a strong presence—both in Indian and international markets—in upstream, downstream and midstream sectors. The scenario in the country will undergo a drastic change after the administered price mechanism (APM) is dismantled next year, with Indian companies having to become competitive enough to match international giants." The director, who spoke on condition of anonymity, further said that the decision will be formally announced early next year and that the behemoth has been tentatively named PetroIndia. The new company would have a market capitalisation of more than $22 billion (Rs 103,400 crore) and annual sales exceeding $32 billion (Rs 150,400 crore) in its first year. Hypothetically speaking, this would place PetroIndia 118th on the 2001 Fortune Global 500 list, 13th among all petroleum companies, and fifth among energy companies (4th, if you take the bankrupt Enron out).
Highly placed industry sources say the PM's principal secretary Brajesh Mishra, finance minister Yashwant Sinha, disinvestment minister Arun Shourie, minister of state for external affairs Omar Abdullah, who is in charge of energy issues in the MEA, and petroleum minister Ram Naik are involved in the exercise, first mooted in 1996 by the then petroleum secretary Vijay Kelkar. Kelkar, however, had to drop the plan after vociferous protests from almost everyone in the industry. When contacted in Washington DC, where he's currently employed with the IMF, Kelkar refused to comment.