Dr B. Mohanty took charge as member, Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board, in January 2014. He joined the Government of India as an officer of the Indian Economic Services in 1976, and since has held important positions in the ministries of agriculture, finance, consumer affairs, and petroleum and natural gas.
According to Dr Mohanty, the city gas distribution (CGD) sector in the country has been progressing at a sluggish rate in recent times. If one looks at natural gas pipelines, not much infrastructure has been created. The progress achieved in the past two bidding rounds has also not been very encouraging. However, the silver lining for the sector is the significant fall in gas prices globally, which is expected to continue, as well as the policy reforms being undertaken by the government. Since the key institutional structures are in place, the sector has the potential to move onto a higher-growth trajectory.
Remarking on the factors hindering sector progress, Dr Mohanty says that lack of natural gas pipeline connectivity across the country, stagnant domestic gas production, lack of adequate demand, high installation cost of CGD infrastructure in comparison with the domestic liquefied petroleum gas and falling oil prices, resulting in cheaper industrial fuels, are the key issues. Moreover, the low number of bids received for development of geographical areas is another challenge that needs to be addressed. The sector is clearly in transition. Worldwide, effective regulation of network tariffs and third-party access is key to developing a competitive market and achieving higher growth of gas pipelines and local gas distribution networks.
Dr Mohanty joined the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas in February 1998 as joint financial adviser. In the next 14 years, he worked on a range of oil and gas market reforms, including dismantling of the three-decade-old administered pricing mechanism and restructuring of the industry through a series of mergers and disinvestments.
With experience of over 40 years, Dr Mohanty has been associated with a number of key expert committees on petroleum pricing, and viability of oil companies, including the Kirit Parikh Committee. Dr Mohanty has a master’s degree in development management from Glasgow University, UK, and a Ph.D. in Economics from the Tokyo University of Agriculture, Japan. In addition, he has also studied Japanese at the Osaka University of Foreign Studies.