Lanka Indian Oil Corporation is poised to enter its most difficult era of operation in Sri Lanka even as its parent company, Indian Oil Corporation, re-jigged the management team.

In early May, Subodh Dakwale, a 28-year-old veteran with IOC, who last sold petroleum products in Madhya Pradesh, replaced K. R. Suresh Kumar as Managing Director of Lanka IOC.

Mr. Dakwale has “worked in different divisions of Indian Oil such as Engineering, LPG, Lubes and Sales & Marketing. This has given him hands-on experience and depth of knowledge in the functioning of the different areas of the industry… His career in Indian Oil has taken him to various postings across the length and breadth of India,” a release said.

This posting was necessitated because Mr. Suresh Kumar had already completed more than three years as head of LIOC, the fact is that all the crucial officials have completed their tenures, at the same time.

Its Finance head, who is in the rank of a senior Vice-President, T. C. A. Satagopan, and two other senior Vice-Presidents, heading Engineering (Shyam Pandita) and Lube (V. Sakthivel), were also transferred back to India. The head of operations at the Trincomalee was also transferred back. In Trincomalee, LIOC holds one third share in Ceylon Petroleum Storage Terminals Ltd, the Common User Facility in Sri Lanka for storage and distribution of petroleum products. According to the LIOC, it is making phased investments in the terminal. Named the China Bay Tank farm, it is of World War II vintage, and is of historic and strategic significance. It is the largest tank farm located between the West Asia and Singapore.

In a release issued after he took over, Mr. Dakwale said that he looked forward to further strengthening the mutually beneficial relationship that already existed between Lanka IOC and the Government of Sri Lanka.

But the Sri Lankan government appears to have other plans. It is unhappy with the recent LKR 2 hike in diesel prices effected by the LIOC, to offset the sagging rupee against the dollar (LIOC can hike prices on its own, as per an agreement entered into with the Government of Sri Lanka). Next year, when LIOC completes ten years, and when the tax holiday lapses, the government has contemplated a series of steps to “reign in” LIOC.

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