Fueling the Future: Petrolhead Roel Maas on the future Energy Mix

Roel Maas, through the Blue River Stations Fund, does what he has been doing in his industry for over 25 years: embracing change, pursuing innovation, and shaping the market. In recent years, sustainability has also caught his attention. “The need for mobility, the vehicle fleet, and the number of kilometers driven; it’s all increasing. Energy is needed in one form or another for this. Hence, the energy transition is not a threat, but rather an opportunity. Those who can adapt flexibly will own the future.”

Roel has built a unique career in the service station world. It started shortly after his business economics studies. His father owned two service stations with a shop, where Roel worked with great pleasure during his student years. When he saw an opportunity to add a third, he invited Roel to join him in business. They made a five-year plan to build an exploitation company that operated independently of oil companies. It was a stroke of genius. “After those five years, I was able to buy out my father. I was 27, had several branches, about 30 employees, and the drive to continue building. A few years later, I had a nice national network of 24 service stations.”

At that point, a new player entered the Dutch fuel market: Lukoil. Internationally one of the biggest, but until then unknown in the Netherlands. “I wanted to talk to them about fuel supply; perhaps I could add a brand to my chain. It turned out differently. They showed great interest in my exploitation company and made an acquisition proposal. This also affected my position as a founding board member in the retail cooperative for the 260 shops I had built alongside colleagues in the industry. It was not an easy decision, as I was certainly not done with entrepreneurship, but I went for it.”

A fascinating Energy Landscape

What has also changed over his more than 25 years in this industry, a clear constant is there for sure. “Energy is delivered. Whether it’s gasoline, diesel, LPG, CNG, LNG, hydrogen, or electricity. For the latter, infrastructure is now being laid out at a rapid pace. The investments involved are enormous. The existing pit stop locations are ideally suited for placing fast chargers. That’s a growth market, an opportunity, and – due to fluctuating electricity prices – an interesting new dynamic.”

“The electricity we all consume is becoming greener, including that for mobility. At the same time, we in the Netherlands have never consumed so much lignite and natural gas to generate electricity,” says Roel. So there are plenty of challenges left. “For the climate, we still need to take big sustainability steps. A significant challenge that I fully embrace from my expertise. This is just a fascinating sector, and I find it all incredibly interesting.”

This article appeared in the magazine ‘creating the future together,’ winter 2023/2024 edition, printed in November 2023. To receive the magazine, let us know: Tel. +31 40 844 70 00 or via info@joanknecht.nl.