Public sector Gujarat Gas Limited (GGL), India’s largest gas distribution player, is facing a clear challenge from rising competition in city gas distribution (CGD).

In the last twelve weeks, the CGD arm of the State-run Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation (GSPC) has witnessed at least a dozen top-level exits in favour of new CGD players. With a number of such ‘start-ups’ getting active in the space, the demand for skilled manpower has shot up sending shock-waves through the HR in established players such as GGL.

Some of the exits at the levels of vice presidents, assistant VPs and heads of some key functions has forced GGL to rethink its HR policy and put in place measures to contain attrition. The destinations included players like Adani, Torrent, Think Gas, AG&P, Maharashtra Natural Gas, Green Gas among others.

Head hunt

Sources revealed that the newly-set up CGD entities have been on an aggressive head-hunt to run the highly-specialised business of gas. “In this fight for experienced talent, private companies are offering up to 50 per cent higher salaries and designations many levels up from the current role.” said a source from the sector, requesting anonymity.

Admitting the concerns, GSPC Managing Director, T Natarajan told BusinessLine , “This had to happen following a sudden rise in CGDs. Now that this is a reality as demand for trained manpower has shot up, certain people are interested in moving out. But this is completely based on new opportunities and growth prospects.We are working on and taking up other HR initiatives to retain talent.”

Following the Centre’s push for gas-based economy and focus on penetration of piped gas for households and commercial establishments, a spurt was seen in the number of CGD players. It is evident from the CGD bidding rounds by the sector regulator, Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) gained momentum post 2015.The tenth round is underway at present.

GGL, which was taken over by the GSPC Group in 2013 from British Gas Group (BG), is seen as a repository of rich talent - in technical and managerial areas. One of the oldest gas players, GGL has over 22,000 km of gas pipeline network covering over 13 lakh households.

A former employee of the company said, “The fabric of the Gujarat Gas culture has never been like a PSU. Even after the GSPC takeover, the company managed to keep its independent fabric intact. However, because of bureaucratic intervention, it could have fuelled the attrition of top executives.”

Natrajan clarified that the exits will not affect GGL’s operations, “As a GSPC Group, we are able to take care of immediate problems. We have manpower at other group companies and have kept some cushion also.”