Exclusive interview with Jocelyne Joseph Tayeh, Chairperson - General Manager of United Petroleum Company – Lebanon, strategic partner to the 5th LIOG Summit 2019

Founded by council Joseph B. Tayeh in 1983 along with the sister company Universal Gas, United Petroleum Company has become a leading company in the downstream petroleum sector in Lebanon, serving wholesale and retail through the distribution of petroleum products of carburant, lubricants and gas with premium quality and excellent service.

“United Petroleum Company is known as a domestic brand leader and is always ready for any developments in the oil sector,” explains Jocelyne J. Tayeh, Chairperson - General Manager, of the company.

United Petroleum is a major sponsor of LIOG 2019. The LIOG team discussed with the Chairperson - General Manager of the company, her team’s aspirations for the oil and gas industry in both the upstream and downstream business.

How do you evaluate the potential of Lebanon’s petroleum sector?

Lebanon shows high potential of evolvement in the petroleum sector, which has developed from long-term planning to actual implementation. In the midst of all the domestic and political challenges, ground administrative work is under execution. Although many complications aroused during the process of the oil and gas exploration, we are currently at the horizon of a new era for Lebanon.

Do you have any assessment of the required investments in your sector for this nascent industry? What can drive the growth in investments?

The required investments in this nascent industry should be set under a transparent policy by the government. Investors should have advanced qualifications, fully adhere to transparency and be willing to publish all signed contracts, as well as keep a close eye on the process and follow a strategic plan for implementing and evaluating the impact on local policies.

Three factors will drive growth in this sector. First, the increase of drilling activities in explored zones to keep pace with the demand; second, the increase of exploration of unconventional gas resources to decrease dependency on conventional ones, and meet the needs of the local market, and consequently reducing the cost on the Lebanese people; and third, the investment in this sector, which will create new job opportunities, developing the private sector and the local industry.

What role can United Petroleum play in developing the oil and gas sector in Lebanon?

United Petroleum Company’s activity doesn’t include petroleum exploration. It rather consists of importing and distributing petroleum products as well as supplying all the platforms with diesel oil. Hence, it doesn’t have a direct influence on developing this sector for the time being. In the future, we may have plans to be involved; it all depends on the execution and terms transparency.

What is the level of awareness regarding the upstream and downstream business in Lebanon?

The oil and gas industry has a direct influence on every commodity in any market around the world. Most sectors and societies depend on the power and energy generated by oil and gas to achieve their business tasks, which leads to a huge demand on these products. The countries with huge crude oil storage are the richest and are able to control the market. By exploring new extracting fields in other countries, the cost can be reduced, and the market will be more free from being monopolized. Furthermore, a balance between extracting and demand must be maintained to reach a stable cost that will be reflected on the price of all goods and services.

Therefore, it is important to identify risks and solutions through technological innovation to maintain local economic balance and need.

Upstream sector - The upstream sector of the oil and gas industry involves intensive efforts towards searching for, extracting and producing crude oil. This process is very difficult and therefore requires the involvement of experts in the field along with information technology that plays active roles in the exploration process, easing the discovery of new fields and their exploitation.

Downstream sector - The downstream sector of the oil and gas industry is about reaching consumers through products such as gasoline or petrol, kerosene, jet fuel, diesel oil, heating oil, fuel oils, lubricants, waxes, asphalt, natural gas, and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) as well as hundreds of petrochemicals. In other words, it is the refining of petroleum crude oil and the processing and purifying of raw natural gas, as well as the marketing and distribution of products derived from the latter.

Moreover, midstream operations are often included in the downstream category and are considered to be a part of the downstream sector.

What are your expectations from United Petroleum’s participation in the 5th edition of the Lebanon International Oil & Gas Summit?

We truly look forward to our participation in this summit, which we consider as a very important opportunity for industry players. We believe that our participation is a step further towards supplying all the platforms with the diesel oil in our coastal tankers.

Based on your experience, what are your recommendations to the other industry leaders?

I wish we can all positively reinforce one another, far from criticizing and theorizing. The truth is we are all working for the same purpose and for one community, so let’s make this world a greater place to be.