Alok Sharma to lead Indian Oil Corp.’s research and development
Photo courtesy of Indian Oil Corporation

Alok Sharma to lead Indian Oil Corp.’s research and development

India’s state-owned oil company, Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IndianOil), has appointed industry veteran Alok Sharma as director of research and development (R&D).

Sharma, a chemical engineer, boasts more than three decades of experience across downstream energy, particularly in oil refining processes, projects and production operations.

His past roles at IndianOil include leading the establishment of the company’s first hydrocracking unit paired with a specialized R&D laboratory. Previously, Sharma served as executive director at the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas’ Centre for High Technology.

There, he coordinated collaborative efforts on refining, petrochemicals and alternative energy across the domestic oil and gas sector.

In a statement, IndianOil highlighted Sharma’s strong track record guiding the company’s alternative energy ambitions. It credited him with accelerating progress on hydrogen production and storage, solar integration, carbon capture and fuel cell applications.

Notable successes under his oversight include developing compact hydrogen-natural gas blends for vehicles, adapting facilities to process bio-oils, plus completing India’s pioneering hydrogen-natural gas vehicle trials.

Beyond IndianOil, Sharma represents India’s energy industry steering national strategy and policymaking bodies. These include NITI Aayog, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, the Department of Science and Technology and the Bureau of Energy Efficiency panels.

His advocacy credentials extend to leadership roles in prominent associations like the International Association of Hydrogen Energy and founding the homegrown Hydrogen Association of India.

Analysts called Sharma’s appointment aligned to IndianOil’s decarbonisation goals as it balances growing its core oil refining and fuel distribution footprint with emerging areas like green hydrogen.

They believe his well-rounded background equips IndianOil to navigate energy transition complexities through pursuing technological innovation across both mature and emerging opportunity spaces.

As alternative fuels only hold single-digit shares of India’s transportation energy mix, Sharma must also oversee optimising the company’s dominant refining assets in tandem to new projects, analysts said.

IndianOil operates 11 refineries representing more than 35% of India’s total capacity at over 215 million metric tons per annum. It aims to raise this figure to 300 million annual tons by 2030 while expanding petrochemicals manufacturing.

Any sustainable fuels scaling consequently depends on production economics, transport infrastructure buildout and market development backing policymaker net zero pledges.