The Croatian oil company INA is now over 55 years old. Over this period, it has greatly contributed to the country’s energy security. In the past decade, it went through further development as part of the Hungarian MOL Group and as a firm committed to sustainability and supporter of the local community.
Speaking about the greatest achievements of the company over the course of all these years, the President of INA’s Management Board, Sándor Fasimon tells Diplomacy&Trade that for decades, INA has been the leading Croatian energy company, as well as one of the regional leaders when it comes to oil and gas business.
“The fact we remained No.1 for such a long time, not only in business results but also when it comes to investments and contribution to Croatian economy in general, makes us proud. During the 55-year long tradition of INA’s successful operations, we have built a good cooperation with our stakeholders and became the most desirable partner that supports development of local communities in which we do business. Last but not least, we must not forget INA’s contribution to the process of Croatian independence in the 1990s. Today, INA is a financially stable company, the biggest exporter and the company with the biggest revenue in Croatia and I have no doubt that 15 years from now, we will still be proud of INA and its achievements.”
Croatian energy security
INA has been involved in exploration and production operations in Croatia and 20 other countries. According to the President, INA – as a vertically integrated company – is strongly dedicated to exploration and production activities.
“We have an experience of over 60 years in these kinds of operations, especially in the Pannonian basin, which is and will remain the key area for our E&P activities. INA is focused on domestic oil and gas production because that way, we are contributing to the Croatian energy security and further ensuring the supply of the market. In recent years, INA has significantly expanded its exploration area in Croatia and – after acquisition of ENI’s share in 11 Adriatic offshore gas fields back in 2018 –, the company became the sole offshore operator for the first time in its history. We have plans for further development of these fields, which will result in new gas production. Our primary goal is to keep our hydrocarbon production, as well as reserves, at levels at least equivalent to the those today.” Internationally, INA sees an opportunity on its traditional markets such as Egypt, where the company has had exploration and production operations for over 30 years. Also, it is monitoring cost-effective business opportunities on other markets, such as Southeast Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.
INA shares were listed at the London and Zagreb stock exchanges for about a decade until 2014. As Sándor Fasimon explains, given the relatively low free float, INA shares were not traded the most actively, but proved themselves to be a stable long term investment, rather resilient to market fluctuation. Also, in recent years, it provided its shareholders with more than decent dividends. In 2018, the biggest dividend ever, HRK 125 per share, was paid (roughly 5% dividend yield), while from its listing, INA shareholders received around HRK 3.5 billion total dividend. During this period, INA constantly provided high level of capital market transparency, with informative and well-structured reporting, often beyond the required level which is recognized by market participants and analysts.
MOL Group steps in
The Hungarian oil and gas company MOL took control of INA in 2009. As the President of the Board points out, MOL is one of the largest foreign investors in Croatia and it has been playing an active role in INA’s development since the company became the largest shareholder through investing more than USD 1.8 billion and saving INA from bankruptcy. Over the last ten years, INA has been a financially consolidated company, ready for a new investment cycle and has become an important part of MOL Group. “We share knowledge and expertise across the Group on a daily basis and we complement each other in various projects.
The best example of successful cooperation between two companies is a recent decision on investment in Residue Upgrade project in Rijeka Refinery, worth around USD 600 million (see news on page 7). INA’s Supervisory and Management boards made a decision that was supported by both major shareholders, MOL Group and the Croatian government. This investment is not only significant for INA and MOL but also for the entire Croatian economy in the years to come.
Commitment to sustainability
INA is a signatory to the UN Global Compact as a sign of the company's commitment to sustainability. Sándor Fasimon agrees that climate change is one of the major economic, social and environmental challenges of our time and says that INA is committed to minimizing its environmental footprint and building a sustainable development. “It is one of the fundamental principles of the company’s business and in my opinion, oil industry has to be seen as part of the solution in the development of a low carbon society. INA, as a signatory to the UN Global, is committed to a sustainable way of doing business. We are focused on projects that can contribute to reducing emissions and at the same time, we are developing new businesses, which will enable us to extend our value chain. That implies opportunities in renewable energy sources. For example, we have built two solar power plants and installed around 40 electric vehicle chargers next to INA's retail sites in 2019, with new ones coming in 2020.”
Improving the quality of life
Recognizing the importance of investing in the community in which it operates, INA has helped build facilities and participated in numerous cultural, scientific, medical, educational, sports, environmental and humanitarian projects. As regards their policy in this field, the President of the Board stresses that they are focused on children’s needs and “over the years, we have helped upgrade schools, kindergartens and school gyms. Significant funds are donated to Croatian hospitals, which help the most vulnerable groups. Through our Green Belt project, INA is financing environmental projects and contributing to environmental protection. We also regularly support various cultural, scientific and educational projects and INA is a sponsor of many Croatian athletes and national sports associations. Our volunteers, gathered in INA Volunteer’s Club, are leaders in the field of corporative volunteering in Croatia. We always strive to be an active member of the local community and to contribute to improving the quality of life."