BY MEHMET KARA
Q&A with Yuksel Yilmaz, Group President of Energy Companies at OYAK Group
Economic decision-makers are careful nowadays as the pandemic has almost ended. It is not easy to make a clear prediction about what the exit process brings as the COVID-19 pandemic, which paved the way for great uncertainties, has put companies in a tough spot. However, life goes on and companies continue on their way just like living creatures. OYAK Group, which made new acquisitions under the pandemic conditions, is among these companies.
HOW DID OYAK GROUP END LAST YEAR IN THE ENERGY INDUSTRY?
We completed last year above our targets. We expected an increase of 20% in petroleum sales, and we achieved it. We raised our liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) sales by 10%, which was above our estimations. It was a great achievement to set a high target and reach it in a year during the pandemic.
WHAT ARE THE NEW OPERATIONAL STEPS?
We’ve expanded our petroleum distribution network at strategic points. We are transforming our filling stations into living spaces. For example, we’ve put into service our food brand Bi’Guzel Lezzetler. We’ve developed innovative products on the LPG site. We’ve developed LPG products specific to motorhomes and vessels.
WHAT ARE YOUR FUTURE OBJECTIVES?
We don’t plan to stop; we are always looking to the future. We are also evaluating new fields for the future in the energy sector and monitoring the changes. We are closely following developments in fields such as e-mobility, energy storage, rooftop and facade solar power systems and integrating them into our business processes.
WILL ACQUISITIONS CONTINUE IN THE ENERGY INDUSTRY?
We have 360-degree insight into the energy sector as it continuously changes. There are operation fields such as e-mobility, storage, etc. The regulations of the Energy Market Regulatory Authority (EPDK) regarding these fields have stepped in. Operations regarding renewable energy due to the Paris Climate Agreement and carbon footprint are among our agenda items. In this sense, we prefer to be in the right place at the right time.
WHAT ARE YOUR OPERATIONS IN THE ELECTRICITY BUSINESS?
Power generation is a field where OYAK Group has operated for many years. The ISKEN Sugozu Thermal Power Plant, which has an installed capacity of 1,210 megawatts (MW), generates 3% of Turkey’s electricity. OYAK owns 49% of this power plant while the German electricity company Steag GmbH holds the remaining shares. We also carry out energy supply and trading operations with our subsidiary OYAK Elektrik. We’ve recently put into service a hydroelectric power plant under the umbrella of our subsidiary Erdemir. Our biomass power plant in Caycuma Zonguldak uses the waste of the paper mill in the region. We’ve recently added rooftop solar power plants to our agenda.
WHAT’S YOUR POSITION ON THE PETROLEUM AND LPG SIDES?
We serve with our TOTAL Istasyonlari and M Oil brands under the umbrella of our subsidiary Guzel Enerji Akaryakit AS. Total Istasyonlari has 914 filling stations in Turkey. We also have storage facilities in Aliaga, Gebze and Samsun. Our brand M Oil operates in mineral oil production, distribution and sales. Our brand Milangaz, which has operated in the LPG business since 1961, joined OYAK Group in August 2021. Milangaz offers bottled LPG and Autogas distribution and sales services.
WHY HAVE YOU TRANSFORMED THE FILLING STATIONS INTO LIVING SPACES?
Filling stations have been transformed into living spaces. There is no chance anymore to become prominent with just fuel at the filling stations. It’s necessary to make these living spaces responsive to changing consumer needs. Consumers should be able to find anything they need at the filling stations. Non-fuel fields, new opportunities to be offered to consumers at filling stations, new fields, innovation and digitalization will be determinative in the next process. Innovative factors such as contactless payment systems, prepaid payment systems and digitalization will come into prominence.
IS SELF-SERVICE COMING INTO PROMINENCE IN THE PETROLEUM BUSINESS?
This is an issue related to the point where competition brings the sector. There is considerable employment that shouldn’t be ignored. There have been several failed attempts in the past. But it doesn’t mean that self-service will never happen. There are new generations to come. Their expectations may shift in that direction. They may come to that point. It may evolve into unmanned fuel stations that provide self-service as smart vehicles, which we call connected cars, come into play. But this won’t happen in the short term as it depends on the expansion of electric vehicles (EV) and the shift of consumer expectations in that direction. What can be done if EV charging stations are set up but consumers are not ready for them? Consumers will wait for their EVs to be connected to chargers and windows to be cleaned. In the end, the situation is related to a change in consumer habits.
“Operations regarding renewable energy due to the Paris Climate Agreement and carbon footprint are among our agenda items. We prefer to be in the right place at the right time in terms of new acquisitions.”