Fuelling change

Being actively supported by its two owners – SOK (51 per cent) and St1 Nordic Oy (49 per cent), NEOT has been able to increase the volume of fuel solutions it delivers to the Nordic countries in the past few years. The supply company, headquartered in Helsinki, is a specialist in oil and bioproducts wholesale, whose turnover bordered the 5.5 billion-euro mark in 2018, as the business continues to implement its vision of becoming the most innovative and cost-efficient in the market.

“The financial stability provided by our owners ensures that we face steady demand and allows us to be agile in our operations,” maintains NEOT’s Sustainability Director, Timo Huhtisaari. “We take pride in having a very smooth decision-making process, with everybody knowing who to ask for support. However, we are trying to let a decision emerge almost organically by trying to instil a ‘best argument wins’ mentality across the group. To us, this is the only way we can stay ahead of the competition – we have to encourage our people to look for the most effective solution, which creates hunger for development and keeps them interested and motivated. The most significant aspect of our company culture is that everybody realises that they have a key role to play and the responsibility they bear gives true purpose to their everyday work.”

Core capabilities
Solidarity among members of staff also manifests itself on occasions when not everything goes according to plan. Timo explains: “It is important for our people to know that should they encounter NEOT 168 ba difficulty, they have to immediately raise their hand, so that we can try to sort things out together, as a team. Our desire is to solve problems, rather than find blame.

“Furthermore, to give you a clearer picture of why the company is operating so well, I need to establish that we tend to focus only on our core capabilities and outsource all the functions we do not feel confident enough to carry out ourselves,” he adds. “A good example of this approach would be the partnership we have with Terntank Rederi for five time-chartered vessels used for transportation in the Baltic Sea. As a fairly small company, we are more than eager to develop solid and fruitful business relationships and putting these in place is a necessary condition for our future success.”

Since owned by SOK and St1, NEOT tailor-makes its products to meet the two organisations’ demands and effectively serve their customers. “Our solutions find a variety of different applications – hundreds of thousands of Nordic homes and companies are heated by oil delivered by NEOT, but we also supply significant fuel amounts to be used in seagoing vessels and the aviation industry,” Timo points out.

It is St1’s oil refinery in Gothenburg that is NEOT’s central hub when it comes to the business’ blending operations. There, all of the products are sourced and optimised before being sent out for distribution all over the Nordics. “We certainly benefit from the central location of the Gothenburg refinery and I think that, as a whole, our home markets are very well-positioned, enabling us to make efficient decisions upon the routes our vessels take. As a result, we can optimise their movement, in order to potentially deliver products to several terminals at one go, thus making our supply more flexible,” Timo discusses.

Sustainability dialogue
Moving onto his remit of action, he insists that, nowadays, it is almost impossible to justify the existence of a company if it does not demonstrate clear strategic focus on sustainability. “Today, you can either remain part of the problem, or become part of the solution. NEOT’s vision is that we should take an active role in facilitating the transition towards a more sustainable future. Led by this notion, we have started the integration of some of the UN Sustainable Development Goals into our operations and we hope to drive improvements to the areas we are targeting.

“We aim to use liquefied natural gas (LNG) for bunkering whenever possible and we are also the first Finnish company to successfully test liquefied biogas (LBG),” Timo mentions some of the activities NEOT has undertaken in its shipping operations to advance its sustainability efforts. “There is no doubt that we will continue trying to find new ways of utilising renewable energy in our fleet. In recent years, we have also put efforts to taking human rights impacts more thoroughly into account in our operations. Having said that, it is crucial to raise awareness within the industry of the risks that could harm our supply chains.”

He continues: “In my view, we have to start from somewhere and see if we can identify these risks and understand what can be done to prevent them. We need to be courageous and bravely take part in the sustainability dialogue. Admittedly, the journey will be a long one and many times based on a trial and error approach, but we are willing to learn and keen on working with people whose expertise and knowledge are greater than ours. Positive change can be brought about only when everybody understands that there will always be someone with better understanding than theirs on a given topic. Accepting and embracing this fact is key to improvement.”

Gazing into the remaining months of 2019 Timo describes the year as ‘interesting’, as he awaits legislation changes in Sweden regarding biofuels, with the latter being an integral part of NEOT’s supply. “Generally speaking, in the Nordics, we place strong emphasis on the development of climate policies and I can only hope that these will prove to everyone that they really make a difference and are worth replicating in other regions of the world,” Timo notes. “One of the areas we would like to see grow in importance on European level is binding CO2 and reducing it from the atmosphere. We feel that this topic has, more or less, been neglected by the EU so far. Other than that, in the long term, we want to continue fulfilling our main purpose, which is providing sustainable fuel solutions to our owners,” he concludes.

Services: Oil and bioproducts wholesale