Bhashit Dholakia: Chief Operating Officer, IndianOil-Adani Gas Private Limited

Bhashit Dholakia, Chief Operating Officer, IndianOil-Adani Gas Private Limited

Bhashit Dholakia has extensive experience of over 31 years in the gas industry, having worked in diverse areas such as business development, gas marketing, gas sourcing, pricing, contracts and regulation. He was the founder and director of IndianOil-Adani Gas Private Limited (IOAGPL), where he is currently chief operating officer. IOAGPL is a 50:50 joint venture between Indian Oil Corporation Limited and Adani Total Gas Limited (ATGL), which was established to develop city gas distribution (CGD) networks across the country. Under Dholakia’s stewardship, the company has successfully secured authorisation for 19 geographical areas, spanning 10 states and three union territories.

Interestingly, Dholakia was the first employee of ATGL and has been involved with the development and expansion of its CGD projects since its inception in 2002. Prior to joining ATGL, he worked with various companies such as Gujarat Gas Company Limited, Enron India Limited and ICRA Limited.

According to Dholakia, as India endeavours to transition to a green economy with natural gas playing a greater role, it is imperative to augment infrastructure across the gas chain in order to meet the growing demand. India, being a natural gas-deficient country, has been relying on imports. This underscores the importance of the government’s proactive measures, aimed at creating the desired infrastructure to achieve higher natural gas penetration in India.

He notes, “In the past decade, we have witnessed a massive infrastructure development campaign led by the Government of India. We have started seeing visible improvements in power, telecommunications, rail, road and air connectivity, health, education and digital technologies. The pace of project execution has improved significantly. We will continue to see a sharp focus on infrastructure development and improvement across the country, marked by a swifter, more efficient implementation process. The CGD business has evolved over the past five years through a large “capex upfront” programme, necessitating a disciplined approach to expenditure and project management. Establishing a robust revenue line to support aggressive capex also requires significant effort. Despite challenges, ensuring the timely completion of the minimum work programme, especially the key revenue-generating sections of the project, is critical. Moreover, natural gas, being a commodity, has witnessed major fluctuations in the past two to three years, necessitating proactive planning to secure supplies at competitive rates. With the massive roll-out of CGD infrastructure across the country, natural gas is expected to become readily accessible to a large population, thereby accelerating the transition to a green economy.”

Dholakia’s extensive involvement in the CGD industry, from its nascent stage to its current position on the national stage, has given him a 360-degree view of the sector. Indeed, his long-standing association has created a strong, emotional bond with the sector. He has also made notable contributions to the industry, and shared his insights in various papers on natural gas and LNG. He is a regular speaker at oil and gas conferences of national and international repute.

In terms of management style, Dholakia maintains a largely “hands-off” approach. He believes that the role of a good manager is to set a broad vision for the team, give clear guidance, provide them with necessary resources, trust employees and let them do their work with a sense of autonomy. One should be ready and available to offer guidance, expertise and assistance when needed. He tries to adopt this as his management style and believes in fostering an informal and open environment, wherein he checks in with his teams, both on the work they are doing and their general job satisfaction and mental well-being.

Dholakia is an engineer by training. He has a tightly packed schedule that is focused on fulfilling professional obligations, often involving extensive travel. In his leisure time, he likes to read fiction, watch comedies and cook. These days, he is engaged in exploring post-graduation options for his daughter. His wife is an accomplished human resource professional and operates as a freelancer, supporting micro, small and medium enterprises.