Istrabenz Plini produces and sells technical gases, propane butane and natural gas. The general manager of the company, Srdjan Bogojev, talks in his interview for eKapija about the company’s operations and the new technical gas facility in Simanovci, which is the only fully automated filling factory in the Balkans.
Tell us something more about the company (what it does, the number of employees, the year of founding, since when you have been present in Serbia…).
Our company in Serbia is part of Istrabenz Plini Group, owned by SIAD Italy. Istrabenz Plini Group produces and sells technical gases, propane butane and natural gas. In Serbia we deal exclusively with technical gases in bottles and propane butane since 2006. For the first ten years, we had only one client, and then, since 2016, we have been developing in the market, selling technical gases in the territory of the whole Serbia. The company currently has 15 employees. We plan to develop in line with the business needs.
Last year, you opened the technical gas facility in Simanovci. Has this facility met your expectations? Why is it important for Serbia and your company?
The facility has fully met the expectations and even exceeded some. It is the only fully automated filling plant in the Balkans, the latest done within the SIAD group, so it’s also one of the most modern ones in Europe. I am sure that each next one will be even more modern, because that’s what the technological solutions in the constantly progressing sector are like as well.
The facility in Serbia is generally important for the company, because we no longer have to import and bring over gas from Slovenia the way we’ve done in the past two years. We now fill everything here in Krnjesevci and distribute it further through 25 points of sale/depots which we have in the territory of the whole Serbia. It is also important to mention that, in Serbia, we have one of the most modern laboratories harmonized with ISO and the local standards, with which, of course, our products are harmonized as well.
As for the importance in the Serbian market itself, this facility is important because another supplier has appeared, which can compete in the market and which has complemented the existing offer, and which has also managed to meet the clients’ needs when it comes to quality and also quantity.
In which sectors and industries is gas used and where does its importance lie?
Technical gases are used in all industries: metal processing, chemical, in laboratories, medicine, food industry etc. There is truly no industry in which technical gases are not used. The importance is truly multifold. We had the opportunity to see that, unfortunately, during the Covid pandemic, regarding its medical use, when numerous lives were saved precisely thanks to it.
Your clients are not just big companies, but also natural persons. What does the use of technical gas depend on?
The use of technical gases largely depends on the implementation, that is, the degree of industrialization of a certain country, because, as already said, it is used in all industries. So, when an economy is developing, the need for gas grows along with it. We can say that the use of technical gas is the first sign of the recovery or the degradation of an economy. I’d say that we are a medium-developed country, which determines where it is used and in what amounts.
The whole world is facing an energy crisis today. How is your company solving the current challenges?
Regarding Serbia, there are truly no challenges for now, so the supply of technical gases, propane butane and natural gas is regular and we now have stable supply sources.
How important is environmental protection in your business?
In our whole SIAD group, which owns Istrabenz, the care for environmental protection is very important, that is, for everything to be in line with the laws and standards in that field. As Istrabenz Plini Belgrade (Serbia), we are a client of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, whereby we’ve taken on certain obligations regarding environmental protection and we have to send them reports related to environmental protection every year. From the beginning of the construction of the facility in Krnjesevci, we were extremely sensitive to this subject, and the construction of the facility itself was conditioned on meeting the obligation toward the EBRD and local laws.
I still have to emphasize that we are not a polluter at all, because we in fact break down air into basic gases and then fill the bottles with those gases. The surplus that there is consists of those same gases that are already present and we merely return them. We don’t use oils and greases and there’s no combustion, so for us the emission of harmful gases is zero. As for the functioning of our facility, we use propane for heating, so there’s no pollution in that sense either.
It may happen that a truck which comes over spills the oil, but in that sense, we have a separator of oils and greases. We have agreements with companies which dispose of this waste and remove it in a safe way, so we are truly “green” from the start.
What are the company’s further plans in Serbia?
Further plans in Serbia, of course, have to do with expanding the business. So far, we have covered certain industries, but we also plan to expand to other industries and to also expand the current points of sale, of which there are currently 25, so as to cover the entire territory of Serbia. Of course, if an opportunity presented itself, we would also think in terms of building new facilities and services that our company provides. We are trying to meet the demands of our clients as much as possible and we will continue doing so in the future.
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