Five years ago, one might have described the LNG business as still being in its relative infancy as an alternative fuel. In the immediate years that followed, it was also a market caught up in the swirling storm linked to global oil price crashes, and some questioned whether LNG was a ‘dead’ business.
Others knew otherwise. While there was an undoubted storm to be weathered in LNG project activity, with all stakeholders affected and some more successful than others in riding that wave of uncertainty, those in the know were assured that LNG is here to stay – and that it will have an indisputable role to play in a cleaner, greener and diversified energy future.
Among those were SHV Energy, and Prima LNG.
SHV Energy is the world’s leading distributor of LPG, employing 14,000 people in more than 20 countries throughout Europe, Asia and South America and providing LPG in cylinders and tanks for millions of people to use in thousands of applications. Almost five years ago it created Prima LNG, to accelerate entry into small scale LNG market in Europe.
The role of the company is to efficiently transfer knowledge, economies of scale and standardisation across the group. The business units of SHV Energy are responsible for all sales and customers, whilst Prima LNG acts as the fulfilment partner providing equipment and LNG to all regions; by doing this, it can facilitate a fast and efficient service for all customers. In the words of General Manager Hakan Çelik, Prima LNG is essentially ‘an excellence centre’ providing the best service and know-how to SHV Energy companies all over Europe.
“The company started to operate almost five years ago. Since then we have been providing the highest (LNG) technology installations, secure supply and logistics services to our customers,” Çelik told gasworld in an exclusive interview on the eve of its first ever Clean Energies Conference in Amsterdam, the Netherlands this week.
Day two of the event is devoted to Distributive LNG and the role of LNG in the clean energies, with Belgium-based Prima LNG the exclusive Day Two Lunch Sponsor.
Prima LNG sources LNG from terminals across Europe using its own fleet of LNG trailers and commissions across the world, with equipment supplied by approved cryogenic contractors. The company is capable of delivering LNG in a cost-effective manner to customers in excess of 1,500km from the point of supply and across a wide range of industries, as Çelik explained.
“When we analyse our customers’ profile, we see that we have industrial/commercial customers, automotive stations especially for trucks and also marine customers,” he said. “In other words, we have a presence in almost every segment of LNG in the market.”
Prima LNG is focused solely on Europe, though it taps into the expertise of its parent SHV Energy’s activities in the China and Turkey markets, and vice-versa. Perhaps one of the reasons for its sponsorship of gasworld’s conference in Amsterdam is its ambition to expand its footprint in Europe.
“Now, we are active in 10 countries (in Europe),” Çelik said. “Of course we plan to enlarge our influence in the area. For this purpose, we look for any opportunity all over Europe.”
Challenges to meet
But we should also be in little doubt about the main purpose of its sponsorship – to be at the forefront of the quest to promote the virtues of the LNG business in Europe, a noble cause as the region and the wider world strives to move rapidly towards a cleaner, greener future.
And Prima LNG firmly believes there is a call to action to be heard.
Çelik affirmed, “LNG is a quite a new energy source compared to conventional fuels. Promoting a new energy source or a new company is always a big challenge. If we talk about a new energy source, it is even harder to get a piece of energy market especially in a very well settled market such as Europe.”
“That’s why we, as the players in this new market, should focus on how we can guarantee a sustainable energy for European customers who are looking for a cleaner energy.”
“There are some technological challenges, but we see that industry finds better solutions day-by-day to overcome them. Another challenge is the availability of product, especially in the automotive sector. To convince more fleet owners and truck drivers we need a more established LNG station infrastructure. Again, we can see many initiatives for improving station networks all over Europe.”
“On the other hand,” he continued, “I think we are lucky because LNG, as a product, is a good alternative to conventional fuels in terms of environmental impact. And we can observe there are some initiatives within the EU to promote cleaner fuels that have proven itself.”
“I think we are lucky because LNG, as a product, is a good alternative to conventional fuels in terms of environmental impact. And we can observe there are some initiatives within the EU to promote cleaner fuels that have proven itself”
Opportunities to realise
For all of the challenges, there are of course opportunities to match in LNG, especially in a region like Europe.
“Widely used energy sources have always a strategic importance,” Çelik explained. “Securing supply of energy is one the key duties of all governments. Since LNG is a movable energy source, it is more trustable than those dependant to some sources. As LNG is a globally available product, I think it is going to have more importance in the future.”
“Moreover, LNG has an advantage in the automotive sector compared to conventional fuels in terms of environmental impact and its consequences in health issues. As we all know, LNG is a cleaner and realistic alternative to current fuels in any sector but especially in the automotive business.”
Looking at specific countries, Çelik cited France, Italy, UK, and Scandinavia as being among the particular areas of opportunity in Europe. “As you highlighted, Spain is a mature market but I think we can find more opportunity even there. Additionally, France and Italy have huge potential and UK as well. Especially for marine sector, the Baltic region and Scandinavia are promising areas but I think it requires more time to have a well settled market.”
“Local challenges and advantages are generally related to tax and incentive policies of governments. If governments support cleaner and realistic energies more, then I am sure we will have greater chance to grow the LNG market faster all over Europe.”
For Prima LNG, the company is keen to rise to the challenges in Europe’s LNG business and simultaneously cement its own position at the forefront of this business.
“Our first aim is to grow our company not only for us but also for a sustainable LNG market,” Çelik affirmed. “As long as we improve and lead the market, we think that new players will be active in the market and competition will create better services and happier customers, which are the basic elements for a sustainable market.”
“I think we will not depend on a few major fuels in the future, but more energy sources and a combination of them. Energy will be produced closer to where it is consumed, more and more in every day. But of course there will be some energy sources which will be used more than the others. Natural gas and specifically the movable option of it – LNG – will have an important role in this picture. Many news about new investments in the LNG market cannot be a coincidence.”
Looking at where Prima LNG aspires to be in the next half-decade, Çelik concluded, “It is not easy to assume what will be in the future, but I can tell you our ambition is to increase all magnitudes of our business and to be a pioneer in the LNG business both for our group and also for the market to become a more sustainable market.”
“As I expressed before, we want to play a pioneering role in this market and we want to help the LNG market grow and be a viable part in future energy mixture.”
“We believe the best marketing campaign is having happy customers and we strongly believe that they are our brand ambassadors for all prospects looking for a cleaner energy. We know that this is an endless journey but we have endless energy to fulfil this mission every day, every moment.”