A conversation with … Peter Yntema, Managing Director of Wubben Holding b.v.

was initially appointed Managing Director of the Refining & Trading Holland N.V. (North Refinery) in 2011. The process engineer (53) was commissioned, on commencing work at the start of 2011, with the technical management of the Dutch company recently acquired by AVISTA OIL, and its analysis regarding compliance and legal conformity.

All the relevant measures should then be implemented accordingly in a collaborative project with the resident authorities. Later, Peter Yntema moved into the Management of Wubben Holding B.V..

The Editorial Staff of OILenspiegel spoke to Mr Yntema about what was, as he says himself, a difficult phase for AVISTA OIL in the first years of his work at North Refinery, and the current situation in the Netherlands

Mr Yntema, we would like to learn more about how, in retrospect, you view the situation at AVISTA OIL during that phase, which was a difficult one for all of us, and which knowledge you drew from it. 

How did you personally experience AVISTA during this troubled phase? 

On entering the company, I was immediately informed that the collaboration between ourselves and the authorities was somewhat complex, and that I should remain in close dialogue with these authorities. In the Dutch refinery in which I was employed, efforts were to be made as swiftly as possible to establish the high standards of AVISTA OIL within this company, too. For AVISTA OIL, the primary focus was the lawfulness of the activities. In parallel to this, we worked on the conversion of the existing company culture as well as on the development of compliance regulations. 

Why was this change required?

The close coordination with the Dutch authorities revealed aspects which had not been taken into account by the previous owner, which, in addition to the required investments and approvals, also made concentrated work and a change in company culture necessary in order to create transparency for processes and procedures. It only became clear after the takeover that the prior owner had not been as careful with the verification documents as is usually the case at AVISTA OIL. 

What were the results?

The collaboration with the authorities improved; we remained in very close contact. Of course, approval-relevant investments became necessary short-term, for which a high level of trust was bestowed on us on the part of the Executive Board and the Supervisory Board at AVISTA OIL, which put its own demands behind that of the authority requirements. For the shareholders, too, the focus was fixed firmly on the fulfilment of the official regulations and the clean-up of all deficits remaining after takeover.

Was it possible to fulfil all the regulations? 

The pressure from the authorities consistently increased, also in terms of time, and at the same time the oil prices on the global market dropped, which also increased the pressures in the market. The bundling of these circumstances could not be counteracted. Eventually, the refinery in the Netherlands was forced to declare insolvency.

How do you view this event in retrospect?

(Sadly) That was a hard day for us all. We had worked so very hard, but unfortunately, due to external circumstances, the insolvency proved to be the only option for the Dutch refinery. I regret this greatly.

Has it been possible in the meantime to close all the official proceedings

No, unfortunately not. The insolvency proceedings for the Dutch refinery have not yet been completed, and in parallel to this, investigations were also initiated by a special unit into the Dutch used oil collector Wubben, who had also been taken over by AVISTA OIL, regarding the inspection of verifications. This investigation is sure to last for several more years.   

How could this happen?

Wubben was linked to the North Refinery through a community of owners. In this way, AVISTA OIL also had to bear the inherited liabilities of the prior owner. 

How are you and your employees dealing with the situation?  

We have put some very hard times, also involving searches by the authorities, behind us. But I can say one thing: today we have a team which is totally committed to Wubben. The hardships have generated solidarity, and the collaboration has improved. 

We have become even closer within the company: the Executive Board, Management and staff are today optimally set up for the market under the collaborative management with my new Managing Director colleague Fred Strijd, our Sales Manager Marco Adan and our Head of Technology, Henk Verbunt. This team spirit is enormously important, and gives us courage for the future.   

This is also what drives me personally, as my inner convictions are committed to AVISTA OIL: it is a great company which does good things for the environment. I would hereby like to thank all those for every day in which they work directly in this situation, sometimes to the limits of their resilience. 

The support which we have also received from other AVISTA OIL companies has shown us that reliability, mutual respect and trust are of the highest priority within a group during crises. Here, too, I would hereby like to extend my thanks for this support.     

Mr Yntema, please complete the following sentence: 

Regarding the future, I wish …

… to see open communications inside and outside the company, but above all with the authorities, who are of great importance to our branch, and who play a major role. I would also like to see an identical playing field for all countries in Europe, as future developments should assist in honest competition between all participants. 

Many thanks for the interview