Interview | Sebastian Chertes, Business Development Manager, Aggreko Eastern Europe

12 August 2019

Aggreko is one of the world’s leading equipment providers for emergency power generation, as well as heating and cooling equipment. The company is listed on London’s Stock Exchange and  has been present in Romania since 2012.

 

Given your broad international experience and history, what drew the company to Romania and what are the main capabilities you are focusing on here?

The initial reason for entering the Romanian market stemmed from our work with a large energy player, whom we followed here back in 2012. Since then we grew to 43 employees and have maintained a strong presence in the energy segment, particularly surrounding oil & gas exploration and production. We have also expanded into a myriad of other segments with clients such as malls and shopping chains, or even festival organizers – anyone who needs energy can become a client of ours. More specifically we supply diesel and gas fueled power generators, and temperature control equipment for both cooling and heating. Our solutions are plug-and-play and customizable to the clients’ needs. 

From Aggreko’s offices in Romania we cover Eastern Europe, from Greece to the Baltics. Romania was a great example for Aggreko of how we could diversify in this part of the world, and it became a regional hub that we are committed to growing. 

 

This gives you a good angle to compare Romania to other countries in the region – what is your assessment of the energy ecosystem and recent shifts, for instance into renewables? 

Romania is an atypical case given that unlike most countries in the region we have abundant natural resources. Eastern Europe’s energy map may well change now that discoveries have been made in Greece, but Romania keeps a strong edge on energy production and self sufficiency. Gas is a cleaner energy source than fossil fuels and a strategic instrument in the transition to renewables, which will surely dominate our future. 

Aggreko has implemented hybrid gas and solar projects for the mining industries in Africa and Australia and we are actively pursuing more ways of integrating renewables into our operations. In Europe recent environmental regulations are making this transition imminent and obligatory. Many businesses, ours included, are at the ready and awaiting new solar and wind projects in Romania, after a period of stagnation. 

 

What are some of the main challenges you have faced here, and how favorable do you believe the business environment is at the moment?

Romania is undoubtedly a good place to do business, and the private sector particularly is keen to invest and evolve. The challenge comes from the public authorities that are responsible for setting the rules and making sure those rules are not in fact hindrances. There is a strong need for further investments in the energy industry across the board and one financing solution that should be used is through the stock exchange. The reason Romania is at the height of its potential is that we are a young nation, aggressively developing and ripe with opportunities, for those who are wise to spot them. Often times attention is directed towards scandals and problems, instead of concentrating on what has actually been going well. An example of a challenge affecting everyone in the industry is that of human resources. People ultimately leave in search of better standard of living and we can attract them back as long we understand and respect that. 

Part of the industry’s role is that we need to push for effective dialogue with the authorities so that we can prioritize together what needs to be done. Romania does not need fixing, it needs ameliorations. 

 

What are the key milestones you wish to achieve at Aggreko regionally in the coming few years?

We wish to do more with renewables, leveraging the solar capabilities we have implemented in Australia. We offer solutions for the full cycle of building, testing and operating solar and wind parks. Aggreko can build mini networks, and I believe the future of the energy industry is decentralization and more efficient power management and self regulation. 

In Romania gas is still the dominant fuel for the time being, though, and the projects being implemented at Aggreko focusing on gas-to-power are definitely a key focus point. Once the offshore projects will start in Greece and Romania, we also expect a spike in demand for our solutions in this area. As world leader in temporary power generation solutions we are certain to be of use, whether just for rental of ownership transfer. European regulations will also soon impose a maximum time distributors are allowed to cut off supply, and we are in a position to complement their service when needed and ensure people are not left without access to power.

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