Russian oil companies have become key players in the retail oil market of BH by taking over more and more gas stations, the last acquisition being that of the 28 OMV stations, energy analysts suggest.
Experts in the oil market report that the Russian state oil companies are progressively pushing out of the BH market the recently dominant regional suppliers and distributors from Croatia, Hungary, Austria and Slovenia.
After a strong entry of Russian “Zarubezneft” in 2007 through the privatization of Brod refinery, oil refinery Modrica and 78 “Petrol” gas stations from Banja Luka, while positioning their corporate brand “Nestro” since last year, the BH market is targeted by another Russian giant – “Gazpromneft”.
It is this company, through the Serbian NIS and its affiliate “NIS Petrol” that bought two gas stations in 2011 from Banja Luka businessman Slavko Roguljić in Trn, near Banja Luka, and then in July this year another six “Oktan Promet” gas stations in the east of RS. Last week’s acquisition of the 28 stations of Austria’s OMV, mostly in the Federation was the last one.
Dusan Bogdanovic, an expert on oil market, said the entry of “Gazpromneft” was expected due to their huge investment in the modernization of the Pancevo oil refinery, which raised their capacity to produce high-quality gasoline.
“Serbia is not a sufficiently large market for that capacity so they are spreading to the market of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria. They targeted the market of Croatia too, where they are negotiating to buy 63 OMV gas stations” said the minister.
Russians in Bosnia, he says, are now particularly interested in the “unconquered” Market of the BH Federation, saying that “Gazpromneft” did a better job in a far shorter time, by taking over the OMV network than “Nestro” group with the earlier purchase of 10 “Zovka” stations.
Croatian-Hungarian consortium INA / MOL still has the largest market share of the BH Federation market through the ownership “Energopetrol” from Sarajevo.
Although “Zarubezneft” and “Gazpromneft” in Banja Luka already have a joint venture to explore oil and gas in RS – “Adriatic naftagas,” Bogdanovic believes that they will be fierce competition to each other in the retail market of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Joining of their strategies is expected only in the long term with the ultimate possibility of merging into one powerful corporation.
“‘Gazpromneft’ will certainly intensify competition in the market in every respect and in a way force existing distributors to transform and thin out of the box. In any case, Russian companies will, I firmly believe, only increase their participation in the BH market at the expense of the countries where they previously dominated” Bogdanovic estimates.
Source Serbia Energy Magazine