At the 2023 Global Tank Storage Awards in Rotterdam, Netherlands, Nicholas Gohl, CFO of Aquarius Energy, was presented with gold for the Outstanding Achievement award.
The judges were impressed by the way Gohl champions terminals in both developed and emerging markets, understands the broader picture, and finds concrete ways to help communities – beyond making money.
‘I felt honoured enough just to be nominated for an award, let alone win gold,’ says Gohl. ‘I’m proud to represent a company that I’ve been a part of since its inception as a standalone group. So, winning this award is the cherry on the top.’
Recently making the name change from HG Storage to Aquarius Energy, Gohl and the company are moving into a new phase in its business. ‘We’ve operated as HG storage for the last six years and are now moving forward as Aquarius Energy. It’s wonderful to have this recognition as we do this,’ says Gohl.
‘We’re a small team and a relatively small company compared to some of the big names that you see at the Global Tank Storage Awards, so it’s always good to be recognised on the world stage,’ says Gohl.
HG Storage may not have been as widely known as some of the big names like VTTI and Vopak, but its terminals across the globe have always been well known throughout the market. However, with Aquarius Energy, Gohl is looking to change this. Winning the award was a fantastic way to start the re-brand.
‘We’ve made name for ourselves as a partner to our customers as HG Storage and as Aquarius Energy we intend to develop this as they grapple with the changing energy landscape and how best to develop their respective businesses.’ As CFO of the group since the inception of HG Storage, Gohl is now part of building the strategy and laying the foundations for what will be an exciting new chapter.
On top of winning the Outstanding Achievement award, Nicholas Gohl was also named one of StocExpo’s Forty Under 40, 2023. This symbolises recognition for his potential to be an industry leader – and go even further. ‘I attended this year’s StocExpo with a colleague and we both really enjoyed it. We were very pleased to come home from the awards with myself winning gold and one of our terminals, GPS Chemoil, UAE, receiving bronze for Safety Excellence. It was a very successful evening for us, especially being our first time with our new name,’ says Gohl.
Aquarius Energy’s portfolio
With outstanding achievement comes challenges, and building the company’s portfolio has been a major part of Gohl’s role. The portfolio was born out of global trader, Glencore, and various mid and downstream assets that it owned. In 2017, when a partner was brought into the business, it was established as a standalone company with assets across the world.
‘Building a portfolio and a coherent business strategy was a challenge. Not only that but, if you look at the places in which we operate, and you look at the geographies; we’re in the Americas, Africa, Europe and the Middle East. These places come with different challenges,’ says Gohl. One of his key achievements is understanding the challenges of these regions where Aquarius Energy operates and being able to build the portfolio armed with that knowledge.
Despite the challenges, Gohl finds the experience very rewarding. These regions often have not had the same access to energy that is taken for granted in western Europe. A huge benefit of the role is being a part of bringing energy to communities in places that are subject to energy poverty, where access to energy is not always a given.
‘We are growing our LPG business as an alternative to electricity. We’re growing our solar business in a place like Zimbabwe as an alternative energy. Learning to understand those markets that we operate in and being able to then find out how we can make a difference is one of the skills and successes that I’ve been recognised for as part of this award,’ explains Gohl.
These new ventures do not mean that Aquarius Energy is leaving oil and gas behind. ‘Historically, a lot of our terminals are oil and gas. However, we are slowly moving into new energies. We’re currently looking at a very exciting project in the biofuels space,’ says Gohl.
Nicholas Gohl’s industry success
Gohl believes his success stems from his hard work, patience and commitment to the industry. ‘You need to have passion, you need to feel that what you’re doing is making a difference, whether that is financial difference or other,’ he says.
Gohl also considers ‘time in the seat’ experience to be important. ‘Having the patience to wait and grow within your role is something I have done; and what I’ve learned from this has been phenomenal. I get to the end of every year and reflect on how much I have grown relative to a year before.’
HG Storage to Aquarius Energy
HG Storage recently became Aquarius Energy – and it was more than just a rebrand. ‘The change was a broadening of the scope of what this business is. Up until now, we’ve traditionally been an oil and gas storage terminal business,’ says Gohl.
But now, Aquarius Energy is making a shift to focus on the energy transition and access to energy in parts of the world that are struggling and how it can aid in those supply chains. Aquarius has started looking beyond just storage terminals. ‘We’re looking at solar and into biofuels feedstocks, and what these might entail in terms of other services that we may be able to provide to our customers,’ says Gohl.
With the new name, Gohl wastes no time telling people Aquarius Energy is open for business. ‘We’ve got this new name; this new presence and we’re looking at developing the portfolio.
We’re reshaping the mix of what we have, but the key point is, we are growing.’ Aquarius Energy is striving to be spoken about in the same conversation as the energy giants. ‘We see this portfolio as having the potential to be at that scale,’ he says.
Gohl believes that the industry has still got scope for growth, and it is only going to get bigger over the next decade as new energies and technologies evolve. ‘The industry needs fresh eyes to look at it and find what’s missing and where the opportunities and solutions are. Keeping the industry relevant is going to be important for us all and Aquarius Energy is going to be a big part of tank storage 2.0 and I’m excited to be a part of that.’
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