Business Profiles

National Petroleum Marketing Company: Fuel for thought

Determined to continually improve the petroleum industry, the Trinidad and Tobago National Petroleum Marketing Company is proud to be the most diverse industry set-up in the Caribbean, and is instigating standards that competitors continually struggle to meet.

Incorporated back in 1972, the Trinidad and Tobago National Petroleum Marketing Company (NP) was formed by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago, which is also the sole owner. Created using assets bought from what was BP Caribbean Ltd, the incorporation was the beginning of a programme of serious investment and development, and after buying 50% of the inland assets of ESSO and enveloping them into NP in 1973, growth really started to happen.

“In 1976, NP became the sole distributor of petroleum fuels in T&T, having acquired the marketing assets of Trinidad and Tobago Oil Company (formerly Shell Trinidad Ltd) and the following year the local marketing assets of Texaco Trinidad Ltd.”

Can anyone say monopoly? If this was simply a commercial operation seeking to swallow up all the interests in the Caribbean, you’d be forgiven for calling out uncompetitive practices, but knowing that the Government owns NP means something else altogether. Having a directive to always do more for the consumers, NP cites that “by land, sea and air, our passion is to get better every day in every way.” NP was and is snapping up as many assets as possible, but in a display of respect for the brands being incorporated, blanket marketing hasn’t been adopted. Instead, under licence, NP continued to produce a range of lubricants after acquiring Shell Trinidad Ltd, right up to the point where the National Petroleum Brand of lubricants was launched in 1981.

The question is, how have all of these asset acquisitions impacted on the range of products available to consumers? “NP continues to improve its product rating, keeping abreast of every significant technological advancement in the lubricants industry. Today, thanks to our rigorous pursuit of quality standards such as the service classification of American Petroleum Institute (API), the Trinidad and Tobago and Caribbean markets are among the most advanced regions of the world.”

So, monopoly of the market was never the driving force; it was a case of learning, improving and being able to diversify, safe in the knowledge that no standards were being negated in the pursuit of commercial success. This leads us neatly onto exactly what NP offers consumers, on a day-to-day basis. Before we look at the array of products on offer from NP, we need to reiterate the fact that it is the most diversified petroleum company within the English-speaking Caribbean, as it is such a key USP. After all, any company with enough investment could look to sell petroleum fuels, but it takes a deeper level of industry expertise to expand into other arenas:

“NP markets petroleum fuels, lubricating oils and greases, liquefied petroleum gas, compressed natural gas and automotive specialty products. NP possesses the largest service station network in Trinidad and Tobago. From our blending plants come lubricating oils, greases, brake fluid and radiator coolants. We also deliver marine bunkering and aviation re-fuelling at our facilities in both Trinidad and Tobago and in Dominica.”

NP really is a one-stop consumer satisfaction shop. Not only are the products developed and created to a staggering standard, there is also an extensive distribution network in place, ready to fulfill the needs of local people and businesses. This ties in beautifully with the company mission and vision statements:

“Our mission is to provide a safe and reliable supply of quality petroleum products to customers in domestic and regional markets. Our vision is to be the preferred petroleum marketing company, leading in customer service, innovation, efficiency and profitability; emerging from domestic leader to competitive regional player.”

Note the continual lack of global aspirations here. This is a local operation, run with the region, residents and quality in mind. Yes, if an opportunity to diversify into more international interests presented itself, NP would be ready and able to rise to the challenge, but there is no sense that the team is looking past the people that have made the company what it is today. It feels like a very natural and symbiotic arrangement; people need petroleum products, NP provides them, and everyone enjoys the relationship – but there’s more to NP than simple supply and demand.

Even the most simplistic of operations can identify what consumers want and need, but it takes a more innovative company to look for ways to meet commercial demand, whilst never compromising on the original core values. After all, trust, integrity and passion will never go out of style and can be the values that set companies apart, making the difference between a disappointment or a successful tender. Something else that certainly helps NP to stand out from competitors is the commitment to social responsibility:

“Over the years, NP has had an on-going commitment to the development of the people and culture of this country. However, among the many endeavours in which the company has been involved, we are particularly proud of the NP Music Literacy Programme, the goal of which is to provide an avenue where the youth in the Port of Spain area could focus on music literacy and personal development. We have been able to achieve these goals through the introduction of Level 1 music exams and formal life skills training by an external facilitator for these students.”
Investing in the community is a great way to ensure continued economic stability for the whole region, and given the fact that the future looks exciting for NP, it’s a savvy move.

With solid industry expertise and product understanding forming the foundation of the whole company, coupled with the extensive distribution channels in place, NP will certainly never be forced to search for profitable opportunities. Yes, new developments will always be investigated and assessed in terms of commercial viability, but never to the detriment of the core activities that have helped to raise NP to the industry-leading position that it now enjoys.

The Caribbean will always need fuel and petroleum products, and NP will be ready and waiting to serve, having done so for over 40 years already. We think we’ll keep a watchful eye on NP, as we have the feeling that some new innovations are just around the corner.