CEO: Russian oil business prospers in EU
Russian oil companies, the business climate in Europe is good, but a lot of
fallacious information about the country still needs to be countered, Vagit
Alekperov, founder and President of Lukoil, Russia’s largest
oil company, told EurActiv in an exclusive interview.
Alekprov created Lukoil in 1991. With
operations in 40 countries, the company is now the second largest worldwide in
terms of proven oil and gas reserves after ExxonMobil. Alekprov is rated by
Forbes magazine as the sixth richest person in Russia with more
than $10 billion of net worth.
was speaking to Georgi Gotev, Senior Editor of EurActiv.
prominent representative of big Russian business, how do you assess the state of
relations between your country and the EU? Is the climate good?
company I represent, operates in 16 countries of the European Union. Our
relations with European institutions are good, and I can illustrate them with
the fact that we have received today (1 July) the permission to buy two
oil-processing plants, in Sicily and in the
Netherlands. This gives us confidence
that our investments in the EU, which we intend to continue, will receive
support on the EU side.
particular, on the territory of Bulgaria, Lukoil has plans for an
investment to the value of half a billion dollars, in rehabilitating the oil
refinery in Burgas, so that this plant would become one of the most modern in
the EU. We also plan investments in Bulgaria in wind farms, and as in
other countries, our activities only receive positive
Lukoil bought 157 filling stations in Belgium. What is your strategy for
the Western part of Europe?
own a chain of filling stations in Belgium and Luxembourg, and
we plan to enter the Dutch market.
we say then that Russian business finds no obstacles to penetrate the
any case, I can say that our company finds no such obstacles. In the business
segment where we are active we don’t experience difficulties. Lukoil is a
private company quoted on the London stock exchange, and our Western partners
see us as any other company working under the principle of transparency in
just participated in a debate at the European Business Summit and from here your
next meetings are in the European Parliament. Do you need to lobby the MEPs? And
it’s not even lobbying. It’s about presenting the position of Lukoil on the
territory of the EU, it’s about presenting the development strategy of our
company. I frequently meet the European Commissioners, and this is very
important, because there is a lot of fallacious information circulating around,
including about my country. I consider it part of my everyday work to explain
the real strategies and positions.
it’s easier for your EU partners to work with Russia in the
field of oil, and more difficult to work with Gazprom. Would you
situation with the gas business is different. We have a law in
Russia that limits to just one the
number of gas exporters. Gazprom is the only gas supplier from
Russia. But we don’t need to discuss
the laws of the Russian
Federation, those laws ensure stable flows of
Russian gas to the EU market. Indirectly, we also participate, as we produce 15
billion cubic meters of gas per year, we sell it to Russia and
Gazprom exports our gas as well.
opinion on the competition between the Gazpom-favoured South Stream pipeline and
Nabucco, a EU project aimed at decrease the dependence on Russian
think that any plans have to be economically sound and resource-secured. This is
the bottom line: the economic viability and the availability of gas to be
supplied by the pipelines. But I don’t see those two pipelines as competitors.
Maybe they will complement each other. I don’t exclude that in the not so
distant future a pipeline from Iraq across Turkey would
complement this system. There are also projects for pipelines to
doesn’t politics interfere in business? South Stream has been designed to bypass
Ukraine, and Nabucco is planned to import from sources other than
Russia. Aren’t those political
South Stream and Nord Stream are not designed to bypass anyone. They are
designed to help Russia bring gas to the EU without
transiting countries. This in fact can bring down the price of gas supplies. As
to Nabucco – I would advise that political aspects should not take centre-stage,
and that economic considerations should prevail.
representatives of the big business in Russia a projection of the country’s
power? Are you and Mr. Alexander Medvedev from Gazprom, who attended the same
round table, some sort of ambassadors of the Kremlin?
We are not authorised to speak on behalf of the authorities. Myself, as a
representative of a private company in which the state doesn’t own a single per
cent, speak on behalf of the Council of directors in which I participate. But
the fact that we work closely with the government is also perfectly obvious. The
bowels of the earth belong to the State. The State is represented by the
government. Cooperation with the government is the basis for stable work of any
fossil energy company.