Sol Petroleum has signalled that it is interested in entering the petroleum distribution side of the energy business, even as it builds on its recent foothold in the Jamaican market as the macro distributor for Shell lubricants.
"The new distributorship for Shell lubricants is the focus now," said Robert Jackson, general manager of Sol Petroleum Jamaica Limited.
But: "We are interested in getting into the petroleum side," he said.
Sol aims to build its brand presence in Jamaica by co-branding with Shell, not on the product packaging, but via marketing. The national campaign will include billboards, point-of-sale materials, trucks and buses, Jackson said.
Winning the distributor rights for Shell in Jamaica represented the end of a long battle for Sol, which Jackson said had been trying to get into the Jamaican market since 2005 "and has never given up".
Sol won the lubricant distributor rights from Rubis Energy. That company has acquired Shell's service stations in Jamaica and is currently in the process of rebranding them to Rubis.
The Shell brand will live on in Jamaica via its lubricants.
Globally, leading petroleum companies have been ridding themselves of their service station businesses, Jackson said, to concentrate on the greater profit margins upstream on the production side of their businesses.
The Barbadian company has close to 400 Shell service stations and more than 60 Sol stations across its 19 territories in the Caribbean region. While the Shell brand was retained, the Esso stations acquired by the group were rebranded Sol.
The biggest seller for Sol in Jamaica will be its industrial lubricants in the power generation sector, Jackson said, "But one year from now, I might tell you something different," he said.
Shell automotive lubricants will be distributed across Jamaica, and conversations are currently taking place with other service-station franchises to grow distribution channels.
"I want to be the dominant player in the lubricants market," Jackson said. His main competitors are Lucalsa, which distributes Chevron and Texaco; Imca, which distributes Mobil; and Total, which distributes its own brand.