Deported Rubis Energy Kenya CEO Jean-Christian Bergeron returned to Kenya quietly and resumed his executive role at the leading oil marketer just weeks after President William Ruto was sworn in.
According to sources, Mr Bergeron, also known as JPB in the local oil industry, returned to Nairobi in late October, ending his forced six-month absence.
Following weeks of fuel shortages that sparked public outrage, the State Directorate of Immigration revoked Mr Bergeron’s work permit and ordered him to leave Kenya on the night of April 14, 2022.
According to the sources, the Rubis Kenya CEO has kept a low profile since his return, visiting the firm’s headquarters in Nairobi only infrequently and avoiding public appearances hosted by the industry lobby, the Petroleum Institute of East Africa (PIEA).
“I can confirm that Mr Bergeron is present in the country. “My job is to regulate companies, not individuals,” Daniel Kiptoo, Director-General of the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority, told the Business Daily on Monday.
Mr Bergeron’s deportation came after a fuel crisis that caused long lines at petrol stations and a spike in gasoline and diesel prices, prompting a government crackdown.
Mr Bergeron has been in charge of the company for four years.
The company’s involvement in selling more petroleum products in neighbouring countries, which the Kenyan government blamed for the shortage, was linked to the decision to send the Frenchman parking.
The regional market
According to official data, major oil marketers reduced fuel allocations for Kenya in favour of the regional market, where they could make more money.
Rubis chastised the State for claiming to have deported Mr Bergeron to France, claiming that the CEO had travelled to Paris to brief the head office on Kenya’s fuel crisis.
“JPB has been in the country, but he is staying out of the media spotlight. He returned to the country in October of last year,” said a source familiar with the situation at Rubis Kenya.
His reappearance came just weeks after Ruto’s inauguration on September 13, 2022. President Ruto took over for Uhuru Kenyatta, and his administration has since reversed several executive orders issued by the previous administration.
The greatest loss
Mr Bergeron was the most high-profile victim of an investigation into ten CEOs of oil marketing firms who faced up to two years in prison or fines of up to Ksh2 million ($15,000) over the fuel crisis.
Their companies were blamed for violating a regulation requiring them to keep a minimum level of diesel and gasoline stocks, resulting in a nationwide fuel shortage.
Vivo Energy, TotalEnergies, OLA Energy, Gapco, Hass Petroleum, Petro Oil, Galana Oil, and Lake Oil Petroleum were among the ten companies.
Kenyan oil marketers are required by law to keep minimum stocks of petrol and diesel for 20 and 25 days, respectively, to protect the country from supply disruptions.
Rubis Energie, a subsidiary of the Rubis Group, which is listed on the Paris Stock Exchange, owns Rubis Energy Kenya following the full acquisition of both KenolKobil and Gulf Energy Holdings in 2019.
Rubis controls 8.6 per cent of the Kenyan market, ranking it third behind TotalEnergies and Vivo Energies.