President and chief executive officer, Nippon Oil Corporation
Education: Keio University, BA.
Career: Nippon Oil, 1960–1995, marketer; 1995–1998, marketing director; 1998–1999, vice president; Nippon Mitsubishi Oil, 1999–2000, vice president; Nippon Oil Corporation, 2000–, president.
Address: 3-12 Nishi Shimbashi 1-chome, Minato-ku, Tokyo 105-8412 Japan; http://www.eneos.co.jp.
■ Fumiaki Watari began working at Nippon Oil in 1960. He worked his way up through the company and became president in 2000. In a world whose economy was uncertain and whose oil industry fluctuated dramatically, Watari managed to keep Nippon Oil successful and viable. He worked consistently to expand business internationally and was always on the lookout for new sources of oil.
Watari started his career with a bachelor's degree in economics from Japan's prestigious Keio University. After graduation Watari joined Nippon Oil; he spent 20 years in the marketing division learning the ropes, becoming the marketing director in 1995. In 1998 he was made vice president and then assumed the same position at Nippon Mitsubishi Oil, which was created in 1999 after a merger of Nippon Oil and Mitsubishi Oil. Nippon Mitsubishi Oil became Japan's largest oil company. After 40 years of service Watari was promoted to president of Nippon Mitsubishi Oil on June 29, 2000. It was the ultimate honor after years of good and faithful service. At about this same time Nippon Mitsubishi Oil was renamed Nippon Oil Corporation.
Watari began his job as president at a time when the economy in Japan was bad and the world's oil production uncertain. With many challenges to face Watari made drastic changes at Nippon Oil. In 2001 Watari consolidated Nippon Oil's 13,000 service stations under a new name: Eneos. The new name combined the English word "energy" with the Greek word for "new," neos .
Crude oil prices became unstable in 2003 when the war in Iraq started, so Watari lowered the percentage of oil it procured from the Middle East and instead increased its dependence on African and Russian oil. Watari reversed this decision later, however, because he was worried that the neglect of Middle Eastern suppliers would cause Middle Eastern and Persian/Arabian Gulf producers to desert Nippon Oil for oil from other Asian countries.
On October 23, 2003, Nippon Oil opened an Eneos Car Centre, a one-stop automotive supply and services shop, at the Jusco Bandar Utama shopping center in Malaysia. It was the first such shop Nippon opened outside Japan. The center sold a complete line of car products and offered inspection and maintenance services. The shop did so well that in 2004 Watari, always aggressively seeking new venues for business, made plans to open a second shop at the new Jusco Metro Prima shopping center. When he was asked why Malaysia was the second country into which Nippon expanded, Watari cited an increase in demand for cars and their parts.
Watari was interested in expanding Nippon Oil reserves. The MLNG Tiga plant in Bintulu, Malaysia, processed gas from the Helang gas field off the shore of Sarawak, Malaysia. When the opportunity arose, Watari quickly seized the chance to develop the area. Production began on November 18, 2003. It cost Nippon approximately $500 million to develop the field. According to Watari the plant was able to process 6.8 million tons of liquefied natural gas (LNG) annually. In 2004 the company sold 5.5 million tons of LNG to buyers from Japan and South Korea. Watari reported that negotiations were under way with companies in Japan to sell the remaining 1.3 million tons of LNG from the plant. Not satisfied with this growth, Watari was planning to open the Jintan Gas Field in Malaysia in mid-2004. By 2004 Nippon Oil had production facilities in Malaysia, the North Sea (United Kingdom), Canada, Myanmar, Vietnam, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and Australia.
While Watari was busy helping Nippon Oil flourish in uncertain economic times, in 2002 the Petroleum Association of Japan invited him to be a director. The association was a group consisting of the top oil companies in Japan. Watari soon became the vice president of the Petroleum Association and in 2003 was chosen president. As his first duty Watari said he wanted actively to put forward proposals for the government's energy policies.
See also entry on Nippon Oil Company, Limited in International Directory of Company Histories .
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—Catherine Victoria Donaldson
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