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The year 2018 - Review and outlook

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One should never change traditions. As always in the first edition of the new year, the topic of the month is therefore a review of the past year and an outlook on things to come 2019. Why did I hesitate this year? The reason is that at the end of November, I talked to Bernward Peters, the CEO of GETEC Energie AG. The reason was GETEC Enegie’s acquisition of Engie Energielösungen. It turned into one of my longer interviews. What I found very interesting was Mr Peters’ conviction that it is possible to earn money in the sales business if the company is lean and processes are highly automated. The interview could, of course, have been topic of the month, but – for the sake of tradition – it is in the chapter on companies.

Market structureGETEC Energie: Interview with Bernward Peters, the CEO

In the previous edition, this publication had already announced the interview with Bernward Peters, the CEO of GETEC Energie AG. In summer, the energy trading and service company acquired EEG Energie- Einkaufs- und Service GmbH and, at the end of October, Engie Energielösungen GmbH, the German sales affiliate of the Engie Group.

The GETEC story is interesting. In May 1993, Dr Karl Gerhold founded the company in Magdeburg. Mr Gerhold was a politician; his last position was head of Saxony-Anhalt’s state chancellery. GETEC started with a contracting business and after the liberalisation of the energy markets developed business units in energy trading and sales as well as services. The company was always very quick to exploit market opportunities in innovative ways. This was also the case in the gas market. GETEC Energie AG was one of the first suppliers in Germany able to organise the supply of multisite gas users. In 2007, GETEC Energie AG founded ENLOGS – Energy Logistics and Services GmbH to organise gas procurement and optimise gas logistics for large industrial users from the hubs to the place of gas consumption. In 2008, ENLOGS sold storage services, which at that time was an innovative and unusual idea. ENLOGS no longer exists. Xool GmbH, another GETEC Energie AG concept does not belong to the group anymore. Xool was a white label approach to offer all necessary services to supply residential customers. The idea was to offer companies that are not from the energy business a platform to offer gas and power under their brand.

What happened in 2018?

E-world, the annual major German energy fair, is the place where you have to expect the unexpected and the time when essential – even unexpected – things for the industry happen. On the first day of the event in February 2018, rumours spread that Gazprom had sacked Ludwig Möhring, sales managing director of the Gazprom affiliate Wingas. This was the kick-off for two waves of Wingas redundancies some months later and a restructuring of Gazprom’s European activities that is still not finished. What is the status at the end of this year? Wingas has roughly half the staff the company had at the beginning of the year, and all Wingas trading and gas procurement activities are closed. Wingas focuses on sales, not only in Germany; it gets its prices from Gazprom’s trading branch in London, Gazprom Marketing & Trading (GM&T). At least sales should work again and Wingas will be able to make commercially attractive offers. That was not the case in summer, when, for a while, Wingas was not able to make any offers at all. Also, the organisation of the sales activities seems to be settled. In March, Gazprom founded a new holding, Gazprom Germania Holding. Mikail Sereda is the CEO of this new holding and also Gazprom Germania’s managing director. The complete board of the new holding was also installed later during the year as GM&T’s management board. A member of this board is Lavrenty Pilyagin, one of the two Wingas managing directors. As a side note: If someone wants to know who is a member of the Wingas management board, they have to look at the legal notice, where the two names – besides Mr Pilyagin and Slawa Margulis – are mentioned. On the web page itself, there is no further information about the two (the same is true for Gazprom Germania). All further integration has not yet been decided. Allegedly, decisions are currently not being made. Every four weeks there are rumours that the trading organisation will move to Moscow, St. Petersburg or even Berlin. What sounds plausible is the attempt of Gazprom to develop trading capabilities in Russia. If this happens within Gazprom Export, one wonders what it will mean for the announced integration of Gazprom Export into the Gazprom Germania Group. Gazprom watchers will have their fun in 2019.