Lukoil to Increase U.S. Presence

Retains consulting firm to help communicate growth strategy to investors

NEW YORK -- Lukoil, Russia's largest private oil company, plans to expand its presence on the U.S. market, CEO Vagit Alekperov said on Tuesday at a press conference in New York, reported MosNews.com. We sell about 8 million tons of oil products in the U.S., he said. The company operates 2,000 gas stations in the Northeast.... [and] we are increasing the number of stations that work in the U.S. under the Lukoil brand name.

Lukoil USA CEO Vadim Gluzman said that three weeks ago, the company began to refurbish and rebrand stations it bought from Getty and [image-nocss] Mobil. Today, we have 88 gas stations operating under the Lukoil brand; by the end of the year, there will be 200 of them, while the full rebranding program will take up to three years.

He added, This should definitely have a positive effect on the company's financial activities since right now we have to pay the ExxonMobil Corp. almost $25 million annually for the use of the Mobil brand at our gas stations.

Alekperov also said the integrated oil company is continuing to work on ways of creating a constantly active energy bridge between Russia and the United States. He stressed that in order to make the U.S. market profitable for Russian oil, there is a need for sea ports and oil terminals that can make large shipments of this oil.

According to the report, he also noted that Lukoil is very actively developing partner relations with ConocoPhillips, which holds a stake in the Russian company. Last year, Lukoil purchased 795 stations from Conoco in New Jersey and Pennsylvania states. We have no joint projects in the U.S., but we are conducting staff exchanges; 15 of our specialists work in ConocoPhillips headquarters in Houston, while the same number of Americans are working in leadership positions in our company.

Lukoil has suspended talks on buying foreign refineries, including in Germany, because high operating margins have raised asset prices too high, a senior LUKoil executive said Monday, according to a separate Reuters report. It still wants downstream assets in Europe and the United States, but will bide its time until the price is right, first vice president Dmitry Tarasov said in an interview.

Meanwhile, Lukoil said it has retained The Anne McBride Co. Inc. (AMcB), a New York City-based financial communications and strategic consulting firm, to provide an integrated and investor relations financial media program.

Gennady Krasovsky, head of investor relations, said, Our partnership with [AMcB] will allow us to more effectively communicate with investors our future growth strategies as we actively enter the U.S. capital markets. AMcB's impressive track record of assisting foreign companies navigate their way through U.S. capital markets, as well as its ability to build brand awareness and shareholder interest are the primary reasons we selected the firm to represent Lukoil in its strategic communications initiatives. We believe that our partnership with [AMcB] will be instrumental in helping us build and enhance shareholder value for Lukoil.

Anne McBride, chairman and CEO of AMcB, said, The energy market is currently in the global spotlight and at an exciting phase right now. Our ability to attract media coverage and increase awareness among investors for energy companies has made this sector a focal point of growth for us.

Lukoil hosted its 1st Annual Investor's Day on Wednesday in New York City at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel; a second event will be held on Tuesday, May 31, at the Savoy, a Fairmont Hotel, in London.

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