Home / PEOPLE / Five Minutes With: Roger van Baal, executive director, Integra

Five Minutes With: Roger van Baal, executive director, Integra

by Martin Menachery on Jun 12, 2017

Roger van Baal, executive director, Integra.
Roger van Baal, executive director, Integra.

Roger van Baal, executive director, Integra, speaks about his company's core competencies and aspirations in an interview given to Martin Menachery.

What are your core businesses?

Integra’s core business stretches through the petrochemical chain from cracker feedstocks through the intermediate chain and into plastics. In addition to its core activities, we also have a group of regional activities such as sulphur, which we do not trade globally but regionally.

Please brief us on your logistics solutions…

Integra is well known as a global bulk trader of petrochemical gases and liquids. It is perhaps less well known as a distributor and logistics provider. Nevertheless, our activities in this area are not insubstantial and are growing. The parent company has a fleet of 16 chemical tankers, which service customers on both contract and spot in Asia, which for us is an exciting and developing business. In addition, we keep our finger on the pulse of the gas carrier market as a shareholder in some of the larger gas carrying ship owners.

We have long-term rental on tank storage in various parts of our network globally and from there we break bulk and supply into the distribution market. We also have a fleet of gas and liquid rail tank cars, which we use to service customers in Europe and an isotank business which supplies smaller, more logistically challenged locations on a global basis with a range of liquid and gas products. We are currently looking at terminal investment as a logical step in our long-term strategy.

Please elaborate on your activities in the Middle East…

Our company has been active in the Middle East for the last 25 years and trades pretty large volume of various gases and chemicals in the region. Our staff in Saudi Arabia report directly into our headquarters in Singapore. As we have moved deeper into shipping and isotanks, the range of products has grown expedientially in the last five years. The region is so important to us that our founder Gina Fyffe sits on the international trade committee of GPCA and we are currently investigating asset possibilities in the region, in the UAE and KSA.

What is your global reach?

We are a really global company with our headquarters in Singapore, and regional hubs handling logistics, operations and chartering as well as trading in Brussels, Houston, Zurich and Singapore. We have offices also in Beijing, Seoul, New Delhi, Riyadh and San Paulo, which feed into the regional hubs so that we can manage to cover most markets.

What are the challenges faced by your company in the Middle East?

We have been operating in the Middle East for so long, we have passed the tests of credibility and substance, which are important in the region. It is a market we feel comfortable in and if there is a particular challenge, it is making sure that we continue to stay at the very top of our game and continue to service our clients in the manner they deserve, in what is a fast growing area of business for us. So far, we have managed to maintain this, but we certainly do not take our position in the region for granted and continue to invest and try to stay ahead of the developments.

What are your major achievements in the last three years?

The assimilation of our tanker business was a major achievement at group level and being able to grow that fleet of ships is a very exciting subject that we are busy with at the moment. Also, the decision by the company to get involved in storage assets and increasing our distribution business has been a challenging but also worthwhile activity. Expanding our product range further into intermediates and related products and taking them from regional to global status within the organisation has also been a major focus in the last few years and will continue to be a major push.

How do you ensure that environment is protected in your operations?

Ensuring that all products that we handle are carried and transferred carefully and safely involving no leaks or pollution is very important to us and this has been one of our considerations in going deeper into the supply chain, where we can control the chain from loading to delivery. All ships used by the company are SIRE and CDI checked and comply with the very stringent regulations set by the oil and chemical majors.

How do you fulfil your corporate social responsibilities?

One of the aims of the company dating back to its foundation in 1989 was not only to ‘do no harm’ but to be a force for good in the communities we work in. This is part of our company DNA and not something we make a big fuss about but simply do. Our staff across the globe is aware that we are all fortunate people with decent salaries and healthcare for our families and that we can use some of our energy and good fortune to help others.

In addition to companywide activities that are ongoing, each year-end, the company contributes to staff-promoted projects. This started from the belief way back in 1989 that rather than give year-end gifts to customers and spend a fortune on cards and postage, we would instead double the money and donate to charities and organisations suggested and supported by our staff.

Our main focus has been over the years on child and maternal health that has led us into educational projects and also old-age support to ensure that the huge value of the elderly is celebrated and not overlooked or forgotten.

What are your immediate expansion plans?

As mentioned earlier, we are interested in increasing our logistical footprint in sea shipping, storage and also in land transportation, this will be our focus in the coming few years along with a greater globalisation of some of our regional products.

Where do you position Integra Petrochemicals, regionally (Middle East) and globally, in 2020?

We would have celebrated our 30th year of business and be looking forward to the next big milestone of 50 years by then. In the region, we hope to be part of the 2030 plans set by some of the countries in the region by being a larger and more integrated partner in trading, storage and hopefully as an equity player in the region as well.

As the Middle East markets continue to develop at a fast pace, we believe we are ideally suited as a company to help the Middle East companies develop from being country and regional specific companies into operations with a global reach. It is by being able to provide that access and know-how that we can best service the region going forward.

When it comes to our global ambitions, we believe that staying humble, hardworking and service orientated with the very experienced team we have, that our plans through to 2025 should make us even more integrated and stronger, and that this will benefit our partners as well as the company and those who depend on it for their welfare.


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