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Relations between Moscow and the EU have hit their lowest level in decades. But feedstock industry expert Fares Kilzie says the bloc’s current energy diversification attempts will not leave Russian firms stranded.

There’s hardly anyone who knows more about the German petrochemical industry’s enormous need for resources than Russian entrepreneur Fares Kilzie. In the early 1990s, he was based in Germany helping companies such as Bayer and Süd-Chemie secure petrochemicals from Russia.

After 2001, Kilzie went back to Russia and eventually founded the Creon consultancy helping European companies understand the Russian energy market. 2016 saw the establishment of the Creon Energy Fund in Luxembourg, which provides guidance for investing safely in Russia.

DW met up with Fares Kilzie in Berlin to talk about the future of Russian energy supplies to Germany and the European Union as a whole.

DW: Talking about EU-Russian business relations these days, also in the energy and feedstocks sectors, is a bit like walking through a minefield, following Russia’s falling out of grace with the West over its perceived role in the Ukraine conflict, would you agree?

Fares Kilzie: In my business life, relations between Russia and the EU have never been worse than they are today. But I have to add that we experience this bad state of relations mainly in Brussels, and we don’t see it in Berlin. Russia and Germany are still having a very constructive dialogue even while relations between Russia and the EU in general are in a bad state. Dialogue between Moscow and Berlin is strong, despite heated arguments being exchanged sometimes.

Russia has been a very reliable supplier of hydrocarbons for Germany all along, concerning both natural gas and oil. As for oil, Rosneft has been one of the major oil suppliers in Germany, and Gazprom the main provider of gas — maybe Novatek will become a third important player with LNG [liquefied natural gas].

I gather from your answer that you don’t believe the good times for Russian oil and gas suppliers to the EU are coming to an end. But don’t increased attempts in Berlin and Brussels to diversify supplies and thus reduce dependence on Russian sources tell a different tale, especially when it comes to natural gas deliveries?

When it comes to debates about reducing the amount of pipeline gas coming to Germany from Russia, I was one of those who expected that to happen even before the crisis in relations with the West started. I was in contact with German feedstock buyers, and they were telling me as early as the 1990s that they would have to diversify their supplies. So I know this approach very well. I believe it’s a good one, because risks have to be spread when it comes to feedstocks.

Many analysts insist Germany — and other recipients in the EU — could have easily done without the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. What’s your take on this?

Touching on the current Nord Stream 2 controversy, Russia in this project is only assuming the role of a technical partner, meaning it lays the 1,200 kilometers of the pipeline to Germany and supplies the gas, but any decisions beyond that have to come from Germany. In my eyes, the project is very important for the chemical industry in Germany. Parts of the industry are already migrating from Germany as there are at times not enough feedstocks for the industry. In order to create new products and jobs, you also need large amounts of gas at a reliable price — and you need it now, not in five or 10 years. Russia is offering this opportunity of getting more by 2020.

But isn’t it rather risky for public joint stock company Gazprom to keep focusing almost exclusively on its pipeline business?

In Russia, I’ve been know as a critic of Gazprom for exactly that. Many see Gazprom as the holy cow of Russia, generating a big share of the country’s income, so that seems to make it untouchable. There have been a lot of changes in Gazprom’s management structure over the past two months and there’s more to come. We’ve always said in the Russian media that Gazprom is inefficient, not using the latest technology and moving very slowly toward the gas refining business.

I never shy away from the fact that this sort of miscalculation could lead to trouble in the future. Only time will show how it will fare by focusing only on its pipeline business and not expanding its activities to LNG. But we’ll only have an answer to this in five or six years from now. My personal opinion is that they made the wrong decision also by trying to convince the Russian president that the shale gas story in the US would be ending soon — it’s not ending. On the contrary, it’s taking geopolitics to another level.

In the second quarter we expect to have equilibrium between the price for pipeline gas and that for liquefied natural gas, which is very good for the market.

According to the European Commission, the EU’s gas demand is around 480 billion cubic meters and is projected to remain stable in the coming few years before going down as a result of the bloc’s climate protection policies and the increased use of renewables. So, aren’t today’s investments in gas deliveries shortsighted anyway?

Let’s face it, gas is one of the most environmentally friendly products that we have at the moment, with relatively low CO2 emissions. It’s very easy to handle. We’ll see a lot more electrical cars in the future; we’ll see more wind farms and solar energy facilities. Right now, though, the German feedstock problem is that neither wind nor solar can replace the physical hydrocarbon to produce ethylene for example.

As soon as there are reliable pipeline supplies, the chemical industry will start investing. BASF (Wintershall/DEA) and others are trying to secure the feedstocks as soon as possible so as not to lose out in the competition with Asian or even US producers. Several million jobs are affected, directly or indirectly, as we’re talking about construction chemicals, paint chemicals, chemicals for the auto industry and so on. Half of any ordinary car is made of petrochemical components (polycarbonate, polyethylene etc.), so you have a wide range of products that are needed here.

Private Russian energy company Novatek is looking to establish a foothold in Europe including Germany where it aims to open a regasification facility in Rostock by 2022 – and this against the background of the German government having promised the US administration it would build two LNG terminals of its own to also receive American gas …

Novatek is also looking at the Spanish market, the Italian and Moroccan markets, and it’s looking to build regasification facilities in order to supply gas to customers, who have no access to pipeline gas. Rostock, with its long-term trade ties with St. Petersburg, can play a major role for the German economy. It’s a gateway to Germany. To have a regasification facility there, coupled with reliable gas supplies from Novatek to serve the German market is a nonpolitical thing. It’s only a small-scale regasification unit.

The Novatek activities in Germany can’t really be seen as a threat to any other LNG supplier because of the low volumes to be involved.

For 25 years, Fares Kilzie has been helping European companies doing or wanting to do business in Russia. He’s the founder of Creon Group, an independent investment and management association focusing on the energy and chemical industries in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). The Creon Energy Fund invests in Russia together with European technology partners.

The interview was conducted by Hardy Graupner.

Link: https://www.dw.com/en/expert-russia-to-remain-crucial-feedstock-supplier-despite-spat-with-brussels/a-48213356



Dubai’s fast-growing logistics provider Integrated Service Solutions is striding forward its global expansion in seven-league boots. Just today as the new headquarter was inaugurated in the Airport Free Zone, also the formation of a joint venture with Creon is completed, the structuring via the Creon Energy Fund is in process. “ISS Global Solutions” is based in Luxembourg, from where most projects in Europe and Eurasia will be directed. Roberto Bizzarri, the group’s specialist for oil and gas projects, will act as the company’s CEO.

The order books of ISS Global Solutions are already being filled: On behalf of General Electric, the company will carry out the transport of wind turbine generators from Europe and China to Kazakhstan. Operationally the teams of ISS GS and of the Hamburg-based Chandler GmbH will be in charge, the latter is being integrated in the structures of Integrated Service Solutions and will adopt the ISS branding soon. Over the past twenty years, an experienced team of logistics professionals has gained reputation of being able to implement even complex industrial logistics projects such as forwarding equipment to Novatek LNG plants on the Yamal Peninsula.

In this sense, the team will quickly become part of the family of Integrated Service Solutions, believes Group CEO Enver Moretti: “It is part of the self-definition of ISS, that we do not hesitate to accept even most complex assignments. We are not only moving parcels from A to B, but we ship large industrial plants – across Africa’s deserts and to the cold spines of Siberia, if required. “With the century-long cumulative experience of the ISS team and the slim structure, these shipments are both profitable for us and cost-effective for the client.

Russia and CIS countries will be a focus region for ISS Global Solutions. Creon Group, which structures the 50/50 joint venture through the Creon Energy Fund in Luxembourg, has been working in the region as a leading advisory and management company for twenty years. Chairman Dr. Fares Kilzie explains why professional logistics solutions are needed: “Instead of exporting oil and gas, countries such as Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan now focus on processing and refining of raw materials. This results in large projects in the energy, chemical, and mining industries, worth of several hundred billion dollars over the next decade. “The JV provides simple logistics solutions to complex projects.” For Creon the investment in ISS Global Solutions is merely one of many investment projects.

 

Emirates boss Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed al Maktoum cuts the ribbon to the new group headquarters in Dubai. Integrated Service Solutions Group CEO Enver Moretti (2nd from the right) and ICD Executive Director Sheikh Mohammed Ibrahim al Shaibani (r.) welcomed more than 100 partners to the official inauguration ceremony, which coincides with the launch of the JV with Creon


Former EU Commission President Romano Prodi is firmly committed to strengthening relations between the European and the Eurasian Union. As “political relations are currently stagnating”, Prodi said, the economic integration of those two regions must be improved even more. The EU politician, who also served as Prime Minister of Italy before and after his term as Commission Chief (1999-2004), is seeking to bring together the network of economic areas between the Atlantic and the Pacific.

The “First Connecting Eurasia Dialogue” should be established as a platform to connect businesspeople from Europe and Eurasia. The event took place on 15 March in Brussels, Creon Capital supports this dialogue as a main sponsor. More than 200 guests from Eurasian and European Union countries accepted the invitation to the Cercle Royal Gaulois in Brussels.

Creon Capital Chairman Fares Kilzie emphasized: “The Eurasian Economic Union is not a political initiative, and this should be demonstrated on this event to decision-makers in Brussels.” Too often, the region was reduced to political conflicts between the EU and Russia. “This politicization is a mistake”, says Kilzie: “Eurasia is a big market for European companies and vice versa. Economic relations in both directions must be promoted by politicians instead of being disturbed.”

The participants and panelists from Eurasia outnumbered the number of EU representatives. Kilzie criticized this: “This is more of a monologue, as representatives from Eurasia are much stronger represented in Brussels.” Similarly argued Mark Gyetvay, vice-president of Russian LNG manufacturer Novatek: “We need to work together and move from business to business to business.”

Both the Fund’s initiator Creon Group and the managing company Creon Capital support several initiatives to strengthen trade between East and West. Only two weeks ago, the Luxembourg fund management company joined a German initiative promoting free trade between Vladivostok and Lisbon. Russia’s minister of economy Maksim Oreshkin attended the signing ceremony during a Russian-German conference on bilateral economic relations.

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Participants of a panel discussion on business in Eurasia (from the right): Pierroberto Folgiero(CEO Maire Tecnimont), Fares Kilzie (Chairman Creon Capital), Mark A. Gyetvay (Deputy Chairman of the Novatek Management Board), Sergey Ivanov (CEO Alrosa), Koen Berden(Executive Director for International Affairs, European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations), moderator Philippe Pégorier(President Alstom Russia, Member of the Board, Association of European Businesses).
Participants of a panel discussion on business in Eurasia (from the right): Pierroberto Folgiero(CEO Maire Tecnimont), Fares Kilzie (Chairman Creon Capital), Mark A. Gyetvay (Deputy Chairman of the Novatek Management Board), Sergey Ivanov (CEO Alrosa), Koen Berden(Executive Director for International Affairs, European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations), moderator Philippe Pégorier(President Alstom Russia, Member of the Board, Association of European Businesses).


Free trade is a crucial precondition for flourishing businesses in a globalized world. This is even more important in times, when on important markets occur tendencies isolationism. For this reason Creon as a globally active group of management, advisory and investment companies, decided to support an initiative to claim free trade between Vladivostok and Lisbon.

Luxembourg-based Fund managing company Creon Capital join on the group’s behalf the German-Russian initiative. Florian Willershausen, Director Business Development, Marketing and Communications, signed an according memorandum in Berlin, together with other businessmen such as OMV president Dr. Rainer Seele and Georgiy Semenenko (Kirov Group).

The initiative “Vladivostok – Lisbon” has been founded in 2016 by a group of businessmen led by Ulf Schneider (Schneider Group). Since then, mostly German and Russian company representatives elaborated concrete proposals how trade between the Eurasian and the European economic spaces can be harmonized, how trade carriers might be reduced in order to bush trade between Vladivostok and Lisbon as suggested by Russia’s president Vladimir Putin more than ten years ago.

Both Germany’s minister of economic development, Peter Altmaier, and his Russian counterpart Maxim Oreshkin, underlined the urgency need for free trade in his speech during the annual German-Russian conference, organized by the chamber of commerce in Berlin. And particularly “the potential of cooperation between Russia and Germany has not been exceeded at all”, said Altmaier.

For Creon the German attempt for free-trade is merely one of several initiatives to which the group contributes. On March 15, Creon will be partner of the 1st Connecting Eurasia Dialogue in Brussels, hosted by the Italian initiative Conoscere Eurasia.

Florian Willershausen (right) signed a memorandum for free trade on behalf of Creon Capital in Berlin.
Florian Willershausen (right) signed a memorandum for free trade on behalf of Creon Capital in Berlin.

 

 

 



The Luxembourg-based fund management company Creon Capital is pleased to announce the appointment of Adib Kilzie as its new Chief Executive Officer (CEO), effective November 1st. Adib will be responsible for managing the fund’s global investment activities in oil and gas midstream, downstream and energy-related industries. Previously serving as the Vice President for Professional Services of Saudi Business Machines (SBM), the Riyadh-based representative of IBM, Mr. Kilzie comes with a unique skillset and a solid track record in highprofile transformational implementations and rewarding B2B business development.

Creon Capital chairman Dr. Fares Kilzie expressed his pleasure with the appointment of the new team member: “Adib belongs to a distinguished segment of proficient business leaders in the middle east region. He is an excellent communicator and a strong negotiator; constantly scanning the market for new trends, innovative solutions and value-add project opportunities. I have no doubt, that his appointment will boost the fund and its development towards a globally leading investment structure for competitive and innovative projects in the oil and gas midstream, downstream and energy sectors.

Adib Kilzie brings to this role more than 18 years of global consulting experience in banking, insurance, telecom and the public sector. He has continuously proven his ability to create business value through complex business transformation projects in Canada and the GCC region.

Prior to joining Creon Capital, Adib was responsible for managing the Professional Services organization of SBM (IBM GMSR); leading a team of 400 consultants through landmark business transformation projects at Mobily Telecom, the Royal Saudi Air Force, the Public Pension Agency, Inma Bank, Riyad Bank and many more.

During this tenure, he took the initiative of restructuring the Professional Services organization through off-shoring and solution prototyping, which resulted in the reduction of project operational costs by more than 18%. In his 14 years working for Saudi IBM, Adib accumulated substantial experience and business acumen and quickly rose through its ranks; from a Principal Consultant, to Country Practice Manager, to Practices Director and eventually serving as a Vice President for a number of years.

Along with his experience in sales, marketing and business development, Adib was also well networked in the Middle East and was active in regional events. He also contributed to partner advisory boards and actively promoted professional and academic frameworks in information technology. The Canadian citizen with business degrees from Toronto and Leicester (UK) also used to work for the Bank of Montreal and the Royal Bank of Canada, before he left the country to pursue a career in consulting abroad.

While gratefully closing a successful chapter of his professional career, Adib Kilzie is looking forward to new challenges: “I absolutely believe in the Creon Energy Fund as a unique and a strongly regulated investment vehicle. It helps investors realize value-add and sustainable projects in a globally growing oil and gas downstream and energy sectors”, Kilzie points out. “I already assessed a huge demand for smarter energy supply systems, a need to establish sophisticated supply chains in petrochemicals worldwide, not to forget the trend towards liquefied natural gas as a fuel for a greener transport sector. This provides exceptional investment opportunities for the Creon Energy Fund as a finance vehicle specialized in these industries. Such opportunities are made more viable as we witness a growing hesitation from some European banks to finance such ventures.

Looking at the industry from an IT perspective, the Creon Energy fund is well-positioned to make investments in innovative and promising technologies that will revolutionize production and operational capabilities of Oil and gas downstream company. Blockchain, IOT and Big Data solutions provide significant improvement to this market segment and we’ve already identified great investment opportunities in those technologies.”

 

For further information please contact:

Leila Nettaf
Assistant to the board members
phone: +352 26 49 79 2203
email: nettaf@creoncapital.lu

Picture of Adib Kilzie:

Creon Capital, photo : Caroline Martin, Caro-Line Photography©


Currently, one may find merely few topics in European-Russian relations on which a constructive discussion is still possible. Environmental protection is one of these topics. While Russia just like Germany sticks to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, the country’s oil and gas producers are striving to become cleaner and greener along their value chains: instead of flaring the associated gas in oil production they process it, areas contaminated with oil are being recultivated. Risk management and accident prevention systems are being implemented. German and European companies provide the necessary technologies and solutions.

In order to awaken the potential of the cooperation and to expand the cooperation, the 2nd summit “Ecological Responsibility in Russia’s Energy Sector” took place on December 5th in Berlin Marriott Hotel. The Moscow-based CREON Group and the group-owned fund management company Creon Capital (Luxembourg) hosted the event. CREON finances “green” projects in the oil and gas industry and accompanies them in execution. The German Eastern Business Association (OAOEV) and the German-Russian Chamber of Commerce supported the event, which attracted around 100 participants.

OAOEV Chairman Michael Harms confirmed that ecology is an issue where Germans and Russians are d’accord. The move to more environmental protection offers opportunities for German companies to sell their equipment. CREON Chairman Fares Kilzie emphasizes that “even in Russia the transformation towards a green economy” has started. “In the 21st century, sustainability in projects in the Russian oil and gas sector will be a crucial factor.” For Creon Capital and its fund, this opens a “new vector for innovative investment” wherefore CREON is looking for partners and know-how in Europe, says Kilzie. “We host this conference in Berlin by purpose, as concepts and solutions for a greener future have culminated here along with the ‘Energiewende’, Germany’s turnaround in energy policy a decade ago.”

To document progress in Russia and also further cooperation this potential, CREON invented the independent transparency rating of oil and gas companies on environmental responsibility five years ago. The results have been presented together with WWF Russia. Ulrich Benterbusch, who oversees the German ‘Energiewende’ at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi), described the survey as “very important” and welcomed the establishment of the instrument. At the same time, he sees potential for a greener transport infrastructure: “Natural gas mobility could be an integral part of the energy transition in the transport sector in Germany.” LNG, as an alternative fuel especially for ships and heavy commercial vehicles, is cost-effective and environmentally friendly in the long term, especially as though the admixture of biomethane the CO2-free mobility would become a possibility.

At a panel discussion, Russia’s ex-Minister of Environment Sergej Donskoy, DEA Manager Michael Zettlitzer, Tatyana Minayewa of Wetlands International and Elena Kompasenko (Zarubeshneft) deepened the topic of “ecological responsibility” – and agreed on a conclusion, drown by Donskoy: Of course, there is still room for even more environmental protection in Russia, but it’s going in the right direction. “We are not wizards, but we are learning,” Donskoy said. But every initiative is important.

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CREON is a Moscow-based group of independent consulting and management companies, which has developed a comprehensive expertise in the chemical, energy and commodity processing industries in about 20 years. Luxembourg-based Creon Capital manages a private equity fund that invests in projects in the energy and chemicals sectors, including green technologies and building LNG infrastructure in Europe.

Contact:       Florian Willershausen, Director BD/M/C, fw@creoncapital.lu, Tel. +49-151-16244591

 

Pictures:

 

CREON Capital chairman Fares Kilzie welcomes more than 100 participants to 2nd conference “Ecological responsibility in Russia’s Energy Sector”
Moderator Florian Willershausen (left) in discussion with Ulrich Benterbusch (Federal Ministry of Economy and Energy)
Discussion potential for envionmental cooperation between Russia and Germany (from left to right): Michael Harms, Fares Kilzie, Florian Willershausen, Ulrich Benterbusch
Sergey Donskoy served five years as Russia’s federal minister for ecology until he started to work for Irkutsk Oil Company.


The Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) and CREON Group have announced results of the fifth Environmental Transparency Rating of Oil & Gas Companies operating in Russia. The announcement ceremony took place at the Analytical Center of the Government of the Russian Federation in Moscow on the 30th of November.

The Rating project has been implemented with support from the United Nations Environment Program and with participation of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of Russia and the Ministry of Energy of Russia. Just as in previous years, the rating process has been executed by National Rating Agency, while the Luxembourg-based fund management company Creon Capital participated as a partner in the project.

The results of the rating in 2018 both affirmed yesteryear leaders’ standings and revealed new prominent up-and-coming participants. As in the previous year Sakhalin Energy (Sakhalin-2), a joint venture of Gazprom, Shell, Mitsui and Mitsubishi, ranked first, followed by Zarubezhneft. The latter company appears in the top 3 for the first time. Exxon NL achieved the third rank.

For the first time, special diplomas were awarded to winners in each of three Rating categories: Surgutneftegaz and Zarubezhneft shared the first rank in terms of ‘Environmental Management’; Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC) scored the best result in ‘Environmental Impact’; and LUKoil convinced the rating agency regarding their ‘Information Disclosure’.

The high importance of the study was underlined by Denis Khramov, the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation: “The public initiatives of the Worldwide Fund for Nature such as the Transparency Rating of Environmental Responsibility of Oil & Gas Companies operating in Russia represent an important input in improving ecological policies in the industry, and are also increasing the public availability of environmentally significant information”.

“Recently we have witnessed increasing support and attention to our rating from relevant government bodies such as the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of Russia and the Ministry of Energy of Russia, which confirms the importance of ratings in the system of public administration of environmental risks and impacts”, said Alexey Knizhnikov, Oil & Gas Program Leader, WWF Russia. “At the same time, it should be noted that two of four Russian state oil and gas companies, namely NK Rosneft and Zarubezhneft, have been increasingly involved in the rating’s development compared to previous years. Their representatives have always been participating in methodology development and progress review meetings”.

Pavel Sorokin, Deputy Minister of Energy of the Russian Federation, also addressed his support to the rating’s initiators: “Improving social and environmental responsibility of companies in the oil and gas sector in Russia is becoming an increasingly pivotal task in the field of public administration and in achieving better competitiveness of Russian business. The non-government initiative to conduct the rating has proven its effectiveness within the five years since the project started. The dialogue between oil and gas companies and the society on environmental safety issues should be actively pursued with this project”.

Head of CREON Group und Chairman of Creon Capital, Fares Kilzie, underlined in his speech: “CREON Group in general, and Creon Capital in particular, fully support and promote the idea of “responsible investments”, which promotes the rapidly improving investment climate in Russia. As an investment fund we identify outstanding business opportunities, when Russian oil and gas companies improve their ecological footprint. We are ready to contribute in financing sound projects such as advanced APG processing and LNG as an alternative energy source to replace traditional sources fuels such as Diesel and heavy oil. In this context, I would like to mention NOVATEK as a successful endeavor, that grow to the largest Russian LNG producer. This company pioneers with the implementation of large-scale LNG, which may change the whole industry’s structure.

DOWNLOAD the rating brochure (in English). 

Picture: Representatives of the top-3-ranked companies Sakhalin Energy, Zarubeshneft and Exxon (front row), accompanied by the rating team and the winners of three sub-categories – Surgutneftegas, KTK and Lukoil.

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ABOUT THE RATING

The “Environmental Transparency Rating of Oil and Gas Companies” operating in Russia is an independent project, invented by the Fund’s initiator Creon Energy in 2014. More than 30 Russian and international enterprises are being rated annually regarding their environmental policy. The rating is conducted independently by the Russian Rating Agency, according to a sophisticated methodology developed by the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) Russia. In 2018, Creon and WWF also started to rate oil and gas companies in Kazakhstan, a global rating will be conducted soon.

Learn more about the ratings history (external link)

OBJECTIVES

For a long time the mostly state-owned oil and gas companies in Russia were closed shops. Reports on environmental sustainability – missing. Manuals how to deal with hazardous situations – out of date. Recultivation projects for oil spills – what for?

In the past couple of years the situation has changed tremendously: Even large state enterprises such as Rosneft started to report on environmental responsibility in detail. Lukoil installed solar-based power generation on their oil production plants. And the gas associated with the process of oil refining has increasingly been processed or transferred to pipeline systems instead of being burnt.

The rating aims to accompany this process towards more environmental responsibility. The disclosure of information has significantly increased within the five years the rating has been conducted. Companies’ ecologists discuss the ratings results and best-practice examples. The product’s presentation annually turns out to be a gathering of specialists working for competing companies in Russia. But all of them try hard to get the oil and gas production “greener”. In 2018 the rating’s results have been presented in the Analytical Center of the Russian government, representatives of several ministries attended the event.

Learn more about the rating’s objectives (external link)

METHDOLOGY

The methodology behind the rating of oil and gas companies in terms of environmental transparency and responsibility has been developed in 2014 and reviewed since then on an annual basis. Every year all Russian oil and gas companies are invited to participate in a round table discussion with WWF specialists to discuss the details and propose changes. Large companies such as Rosneft and Lukoil contribute to this discussion constructively just as much as smaller producers such as Salym Petroleum.

According to the metholodology the rating agency assesses the oil and gas companies along the value chain from hydrocarbon production, processing to transportation. The amount and quality of disclosed information is crucial for their placement in the rating, but also the way how comapnies deal with accidents, whether they inform about it or deploy a harzard prevention and risk management system. Also the producers measures to process associated petroleum gas (APG) during the refinery process matter, some still burn APG instead of using it.

Learn more about the methodology (external link)



The Sultanate of Oman is one of the most stable countries in the Middle East. Since the country’s political opening in 1971, the government has maintained constructive relations with all its neighbors, and Oman plays an active role in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Thanks to the abundance of oil and gas, economic output has tripled since the turn of the millennium, though, with the collapse of the oil price the growth to slow down two years ago.

Today, Oman is open to international cooperation, as evidenced by exploration projects with partners such as Shell and Total in the oil sector. In gas processing, the sultanate plans to increase gas liquefaction capacity to meet growing global demand for liquefied natural gas (LNG). The Creon Energy Fund is ready to participate in such projects as an equity partner. That is why a delegation of Creon Capital headed by Chairman Dr. Fares Kilzie on October 28 and 29 visited Oman’s capital Muscat.

The focus of the fund’s delegation trip was a visit to the “Gas & LNG Middle East Summit” hosted by Wisdom Events. The high-caliber participants included, among others, the Minister of Oil and Gas, Dr. Ing. Mohammed bin Hamad Al Rumhy and Harib Al-Kitani, CEO of Oman LNG. Both underpinned their commitment to gas processing projects, which should help to strengthen and diversify the country’s economic growth sustainably. Creon Capital Chairman Fares Kilzie expressed in a panel discussion that the Luxembourg Creon Energy Fund will contribute to the necessary investment in LNG infrastructure.

On contrary to the oil sector the gas processing industries need equity partners, when it comes to the realization of new projects, Kilzie emphasized: “The global hydrocarbon market is changing. Chinese companies, for instance, approach us on monthly basis to ask for solutions how to import more LNG. To serve these demands, we need to invest not only in large-scale but also in small- and mid-scale LNG plants.”

These smaller tonnages with a capacity of usually less than 1.5 million metric tons per annum, are dedicated to decentralized heating plants, truck fueling stations and so-called bunkering operations, the refueling of ships with LNG. If the transport and logistics sector operate to a large extend on LNG-basis instead of Diesel and heavy oil, emissions could be reduced tremendously. In this context Dr. Kilzie argued: “We consider gas as the greenest available energy source for the transport sector.”

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For further information please contact: Leila Nettaf, T. +352 26 49 79 2203 (nettaf@creoncapital.lu)

Pictures:

Dr. Fares Kilzie, Chairman of the board of Creon Capital, debating with David Kalife, CEO of Oman Oil Marketing.
Florian Willershausen, Director Business Development, Marketing and Communications of Creon Capital, speeking on investment opportunities in the LNG sector.

 



White knight or grasshopper?

How private equity financing can help to globalize SME companies

Summary: Private Equity funds help small and medium-sized enterprises to finance growth by offering capital in exchange for shares. The investors actively support internationalization, which many banks are skeptical about. But not every medium-sized company should get a foreign master into their own house – the chemistry between the investor and the seller must be right.

by Florian Willershausen

European banks literally throw good money after bad. For three percent per annum, one would think, the savings bank laces a loan for expansion abroad. Finally, medium-sized company may target the internationalization that the globalized world itself demands from the screwdriver in Schaffhausen: the engineering office in Romania should have been bought long ago, in Poland a factory must finally be produced, and the devaluation of the Russian ruble encourages to produce polymer components for the auto industry at competitive prices dedicated to exports! However, if the entrepreneur presents these plans to the bank adviser, the disappointment follows immediately: if he grants a loan for internationalization, the interest burden will suddenly be greater than expected.

More than ever, German banks are cheating with globalization. If the expansion is to lead to Eastern Europe, the risk managers’ lamps turn red: sanctions, currency risks, missing government guarantees. Banks are slowing down SMEs on their way east. An alternative is to raise a private equity capital to discover new markets. Their willingness to take risks is greater than with banks: A coherent internationalization strategy as the basis for future growth can be a good “story” for such financiers.

As a rule, a private equity investor provides equity capital to companies for three to seven years – with no interest. His goal is to increase the equity value significantly during this period and thus later to achieve an above-average return with the sale of the shares. The increase in value is also the objective of the seller, presuming that he remains a shareholder in the company or its spin-off. In most cases, the equity partner provides support to the existing management, no matter whether he is a majority or minority investor. However, when implementing growth strategies – be it expansion, upscaling of the product line or restructuring – private equity investors are on hand with their experience. Ideally, the private equity investor is a “white knight” who leads the mid-sized company into a better future. In any case, no “grasshopper” as he has been blamed by European politicians a couple of years ago.

The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which is controlled by Vneshekonombank (VEB) and whose fixed assets amount to around ten billion dollars, is particularly suitable in Russia. The aim of the state fund is to attract foreign capital as a co-investor in projects – especially if it flows into projects with a localization share. According to the company, more than $ 30 billion has been generated since its inception in 2011 by foreign co-investors. Among others, our Creon Energy Fund invests in engineering companies that design components for the local oil and gas industry in the region, as well as in the production of products and specialty chemicals based on oil, gas and polymers – precursors currently in Russia available at competitive prices.

However, such a merger poses risks for both the SME and the investor: For the owner of a family business, it may be difficult to closely align business development strategies with a partner. This requires a high degree of transparency, willingness to conciliate on strategic issues, sophisticated (and expensive) reporting system. Conversely, the investor is interested in understanding the substance of the company, risks and weaknesses. He is also obliged to do so by the regulator, which demands extensive audits and reporting obligations in the interest of investors and investors in alternative investment funds (AIF). Therefore, he sends an army of lawyers and accountants to literally turn every stone in the targeted company. Not every “patriarch” likes this due diligence.

Partnering with a private equity investor is like a marriage. It is advisable to get to know the other person well in advance, to check the strengths and weaknesses and, as it were, to regulate the marriage contract down to the smallest detail. This also includes the question of what rights and duties the shareholder has, under what conditions he can also take control of the management. In the run-up, the so-called exit strategy must also look like: selling to a strategic investor, another fund, the IPO or the resale. In this aspect, admittedly, there should be a big difference to marriage.

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Florian Willershausen is a former business journalist (Handelsblatt, WirtschaftsWoche). Since 2016, he has been working for Creon Capital, whose private equity funds invest in engineering companies, oil and gas processing companies with a focus on Russia. Behind the Creon Energy Fund is Creon Energy, an established consulting and management company that is well connected in Eastern Europe’s Oil & Gas Downstream industry, helping to bring the fund’s assets to active management.

THIS ARTICLE HAS BEEN PUBLISHED FIRST IN OST-CONTACT, a monthly German publication on trade relations between East and West.