As many as five candidates, including one top former bureaucrat, are in the race for the position of Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) chairman.
Initially, a special committee, headed by close aide of Prime Minister Imran Khan, had shortlisted 24 candidates. After interviewing these candidates, the committee has shortlisted five candidates including former secretary Dr Tanvir Qureshi. Officials familiar with the development said that the Cabinet Division would seek clearance of the shortlisted candidates from the intelligence agencies. Earlier, the special committee had also undergone a process of appointing Ogra chairman. But, the committee had not found any candidate suitable and fit for the post of chairman. Following this, the Cabinet Division had re-advertised for the post to appoint Ogra chairman.
The Inquiry Commission on oil crisis had recently blamed the regulatory authority for failure to take measures. It had also pointed out some irregularities in award of licenses to oil marketing companies (OMCs). Since long, the previous governments had appointed members and the chairman Ogra on a political basis. The practice started during the regime of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), when it had made a plan to control the regulator by making appointments of their choice. The PPP government had appointed former secretary as the Ogra chairman. It also appointed members oil and gas in Ogra who had served in then petroleum ministry, which made Ogra a toothless regulator. The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government had a keen interest in LNG deals and therefore, it focused on bringing people from the Sui Northern Gas Pipeline Limited (SNGPL) that was licensee of the Ogra.
It appointed Uzma Adil as chairperson Ogra who had served in SNGPL as CFO and managing director for smooth handling of LNG issue. It also appointed another official as member gas who had served in SNGPL. Now, the Pakistan Tehreeke-Insaf (PTI) government had appointed member oil who has been working in Ogra as executive director. However, one key minister in PTI government and some top bureaucrats were making efforts to appoint Qureshi, who has also worked in the Petroleum Division. The other candidates for the position are Mohmmad Hanif, M Yousuf Khan, Dr Aamer Jadoon and Shahid Karim. Ogra had recently faced severe criticism in oil crisis. Therefore, industry officials say that government should appoint professionals with energy sector background for smooth functioning of the regulator.