Lukoil, Russia’s largest oil company, is slowly buying up influence in Europe according to an article in the Financial Times.

Whilst, its rival, Gazprom has often stirred controversy through headline-making projects, Lukoil is quietly concentrating on countries in south-east Europe where Russia is seen with less suspicion than the rest of the continent.

In a string of deals, Lukoil has invested $3bn in downstream assets including buying three refineries in Ukraine, Romania and Bulgaria and acquiring 2,000 petrol stations in the region. The group says it plans to invest a further $9bn in downstream investments outside Russia in the next 10 years, mainly in Europe. Vagit Alekperov, chief executive, said in a recent speech that, for Lukoil, “creating global downstream production chains” was ” becoming a major driver”.

It has also expanded in retail, buying petrol stations from the Baltic to the Black Sea. It has substantial networks in Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, the Baltic states and Serbia. It even has a small chain in Poland, where political sensitivity to Russian investors is especially high. The company has even invested in two Finnish marketing and distribution companies – Lukoil’s first investment directly in the EU.

Article cited:  Stefan Wagstyl and Isabel Gorst, “Lukoil Extends its Reach Across Europe”, Financial Times, January 24.