Dr. Karsten Heuchert : You see natural gas, we see responsibility!

In Saxony, particular attention is paid to sustainable management of the energy supply. That’s why the Leipzig-based gas supplier, VNG, operates on an international level, but is also deeply rooted in the region.

VNG, the Leipzig-based gas supplier, has successfully positioned itself in the energy sector both in Germany and Europe for more than 50 years. The energy supplier’s development is also closely tied to market-based development in East Germany, which began 25 years ago. Two days before the German economic and monetary union came into effect on 29th June 1990, VEB Verbundnetz Gas became a privately-owned company known as VNG – Verbundnetz Gas Aktiengesellschaft. VNG now belongs to the few large enterprises which have managed the transformation from the GDR to market economy. Today, the company has developed into a stable and reliable natural gas specialist with a constant focus on the customers’ needs. However, at the moment stable framework conditions are not yet in place due to the tough market environment in the energy sector, particularly with regard to market price development and the sluggish implementation of measures required for energy transition. As a result, the VNG is confronted with some immense challenges, which will place huge demands on the company in the future. The company will continue to centre its activities around natural gas products and seek to diversify them in order to gain a successful position on the market in the future.

Active along the entire value-added chain. The company’s core business activity entails delivering natural gas – an environmentally friendly source of energy – to municipal utility companies and regional supply companies. The VNG Group is active within the entire value chain of the natural gas industry. Thanks to its four business divisions Exploration & Production, Gas Trading & Services, Gas Transportation and Gas Storage, the company can provide its customers with natural gas safely and reliably. Every day, 1,400 employees are working to ensure that there is a sufficient amount of natural gas on the market everywhere. To name just three examples: technicians service the gas installations using their extensive expertise, thus keeping technical operations in peak condition at all times. A number of the technicians work for a constant gas flow within the 24-hour standby service. Gas traders constantly keep a close eye on trading platforms for natural gas and also observe unforeseeable occurrences, for example if a drilling platform breaks down unexpectedly, they can then quickly purchase additional volumes. The VNG boasts a strong position for the long term thanks to the broadly diversified sources of supply and transport routes, high storage capacities and in-house production facilities. The long-standing relations with international partners in Norway and Russia play a part in ensuring that natural gas customers constantly receive supplies that meet their demands.

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Internationally orientated with a strong regional presence. Although VNG is internationally orientated, the company has also developed a strong regional awareness and a stable base in East Germany. The strong ties to the region are a prominent feature of the corporate identity. This can be clearly seen in the customer base, which includes a number of local energy suppliers. The VNG remains true to its roots and is clearly committed to Leipzig and East Germany. It was and remains an important economic factor for the region and plays a key role as an employer. Every VNG work­­place corresponds to three other workplaces in Leipzig. The company’s business activities result in more than 4,400 jobs in Saxony. East German companies and communities benefit from the dedication and commitment shown by VNG on all different levels. The Leipzig-based company has invested approximately two million euros in a modern natural gas infrastructure in the East and a large bulk of the investments (more than 80 per cent) have ended up in East German medium-sized companies. A large number of East German building companies and engineering offices have been established thanks to orders by VNG and are now successful throughout Europe.

Socially engaged. One aspect of the VNG’s entrepreneurial understanding has always been about ensuring a safe and reliable supply of natural gas, as well as being committed to individuals in the regions in which the company is active – beyond the operational business activities. This is because entrepreneurial responsibility means far more than economic success and being able to maintain a strong position in the face of competition. It’s about securing future work placements, initiatives in research and development, as well as in education, culture, sport and in the social sector. Above all, the company supports the local community by means of the VNG fund. Supporting voluntary activities plays a special role among the measures adopted for which the “Verbundnetz der Wärme” (integrated warmth network) was founded in 2001. Many agree that this voluntary work has largely contributed to the community’s stability – something that is more topical than ever before. The “Verbundnetz der Wärme” provides a stage for social engagement. Over the course of the last few years, a network consisting of more than 200 members has emerged.

vng_heuchert_23x30_0-kopieren_beDr. Karsten Heuchert
Born in Reinbeck in 1954, the author pursued studies in economics and law after completing a bank apprenticeship in Hamburg. After completing a law clerk, he embarked on a career at Wintershall AG, Kassel in 1985. He has been the CEO of the VNG-Verbundnetz Gas AG in Leipzig since 2010.