Truck-Stop Pilot Flying J Expands Into Energy Market
The solution was an expansion into the energy sector, increasing its so-called vertical integration. Under the leadership of Chief Strategy Officer Shameek Konar — an alum of Castleton Commodities International LLC, Mercuria Energy Trading SA and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. — Pilot has shifted from solely focusing on its travel centers and retail fuel sales to also snatching up midstream infrastructure and expanding into water disposal, blending, crude hauling and other business segments.
The moves come after Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. paid $2.76 billion for a 38.6% stake in the Knoxville, Tennessee-based firm in 2017, with plans to increase that stake to 80% by 2023. Last year, Forbes ranked Pilot as the No. 10 largest private company in the U.S.
The firm, which operates more than 750 travel centers across the U.S. and Canada, already supplies about one-sixth of the nation’s diesel consumption. Now, it’s focused on widening its footprint. Last year, it acquired NGL Energy Partners LP’s TransMontaigne Products Services, giving Pilot an increased presence on the the Colonial Pipeline, a vital conduit connecting the Gulf Coast and East Coast. The firm can access 21 terminals along the pipeline, shipping some 80,000 barrels a day.
Pilot also took a majority stake in Pro Petroleum a year prior, giving the company access to the West Coast as well as Arizona, Nevada and West Texas markets. The firm has the third-largest tanker fleet in North America with more than 1,500 trucks able to move energy products including diesel, gasoline, diesel exhaust fluid, biodiesel, crude, water and sand.
For now, the company’s expansion plans don’t include operating a refinery, but Pilot’s evaluating options for protecting its fuel margins, including an equity interest, said Konar.
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