Since it was privatised Petrol Ofisi, which is currently the largest private sector company in Turkey, has undergone a transformation. Following the appointment of Jan Nahum as its new general manager the company has entered a ‘second era of change’. Nahum says that they are interested in Tüpraş and have studied refineries in the Mediterranean, eastern Mediterranean, Black Sea and Caspian basin.
Jan Nahum is one of the most ambitious professional executives in the Turkish business community. He was appointed head of Petrol Ofisi last April. He filled the position left vacant by the retirement of Ertuğrul Tuncer. With his appointment Petrol Ofisi entered a second era of change. After spending the first ’90 days’ in his new position getting to know the company and determining a strategy and vision, Nahum made his first announcement to Capital. The new general manager of Petrol Ofisi defined the company’s new vision as ‘being a player which makes its mark in the energy game’. He says that, in this context, they are very interested in the privatisation of Tüpraş. But their interest in refineries is not restricted to Tüpraş. They have also looked at refineries in the Mediterranean, eastern Mediterranean, Black Sea and Caspian basin. They are conducting comprehensive research and studies on this subject.
We spoke with Jan Nahum about the company’s strategy in the new period.
In terms of your new strategy, which are the areas which are close to you?
We have our gas business in our filling stations. As a result, we are active in LPG for cars. Okay, so while we are active in car LPG do we need to make a move in LPG. We are studying subjects such as this. At the moment, we are not involved in LPG distribution. We are buying from the distributor and selling in our filling stations. We may enter the distribution business. We are looking at whether or not we should become involved in the use of LPG for commercial purposes.
We have two gas companies. One is involved in ‘gas forwarding’, the other in ‘gas distribution’. As a result, we have two established companies in natural gas. Our gas forwarding company delivers the product to the filling stations, which requires a separate licence. While our gas distribution company conducts sales. For this reason we have begun looking at LNG.
You said that you were interested in Tüpraş. What will you do if you do not win the tender?
Tüpraş is part of our strategy. It has four refineries and is the only company which refines oil in Turkey. We buy approximately 40 percent of Tüpraş’s production of liquid fuels. We source approximately 70 percent of our total needs from Tüpraş. As a result, it is somewhere where Petrol Ofisi is a major customer. Naturally, it is not possible for us to remain indifferent to the privatisation of Tüpraş.
Apart from refineries, are there other companies working in the energy field in neighbouring countries in which you are interested?
We have plans to position ourselves, of course. We want to implement these plans. First of all, we shall ensure that all of our filling stations meet specific criteria in terms of quality. We want to ensure that our position on the market is of the high standard that is expected the market leader.
Secondly, we shall try to move outside Turkey in energy and fuel distribution. We have a market share of 70 percent in aviation fuels and, in some places, a market share of nearly 50 percent in maritime fuels. These market shares are now giving out a number of signals. I mean, they are indicators that we shall soon need to look for a market outside Turkey.
In energy distribution, they are pointing us towards several places outside Turkey. This means we need branding. We are conducting several studies in order to produce a Turkish national energy distribution brand. We are conducting studies on expanding outside Turkey in the fields in which we are a major player. In the future, we shall make some progress in these areas.
Thirdly, we shall strengthen our initiatives in fields which we have decided we need to enter, such as LPG and LNG.
Some businessmen believe that there is a recession, others talk of ‘excess capacity’. There are also those who say that the ‘domestic market is saturated’. But despite such comments, many companies and businessmen are continuing to forge ahead and are making new investments. These investments, which are being made in everything from poultry to automotives are based on different realities. Each company’s calculations and investment criteria are different… But, when they make a move, all of them bear in mind Turkey, the region in which they are located and the globalised business community.
SEDEF SEÇKİN BÜYÜK