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"Inmarsys" - Pioneers RuNet Market in Equipment
By Vladimir Kozlov

"AS FAR AS REAL E-COMMERCE IS CONCERNED, THE BUYING and selling of oil and gas equipment is the most developed sector in Russia.
While the Internet is penetrating other sectors of the Russian oil industry slowly - for example, forums to buy and sell crude and refined products are little more than electronic bulletin boards - the equipment segment is thriving with e-business innovation. This is largely because companies see the Internet as a reliable tool to help them save time and effort when buying equipment.
A pioneering site of this type in Russia, is Inmarsys (www.inmarsys.ru). Moscow-based Intertech designed Inmarsys (an abbreviation for Industrial Marketing Systems) and launched it in test mode in December, 1999. It went into industrial service the following May and in March of this year broke even, according to Intertech's president, Dmitry Gulko.
Microsoft, SAP and Oracle were involved in developing the e-commerce solutions that underpin the site. The project employs about 70 people and has recently opened representation offices in the regions.


First Try

Intertech launched a prototype, www.oil-equip.ru, in 1996 when RuNet first started to develop. The site displayed offers from suppliers of oil machinery together with descriptions of the equipment. But it did not provide the opportunity to order, nor did it offer any other features of an electronic market. About 15 companies posted offers on the site, but it was not very successful because at the time most potential buyers had no Internet access.
As the Russian Net expanded, the interest in being able to buy on-line grew as well. When Intertech launched an upgraded version of the project in December, 1999, it found a critical mass of companies ready to make a market. "Currently, more than 200,000 items of oil and gas equipment are available from Inmarsys," said Dmitry Vyvolokin, Head of Intertech's Corporate Clients Department. "The most important thing is that this is a real-time trading place."
According to Vyvolokin, the Inmarsys network offers companies the opportunity to post buy-sell offers, to participate in tenders and auctions, carry out preliminary negotiations, and use various bulletin boards and services.
Russia's second largest oil company, YUKOS, is by far the largest participant in these real time tenders; it has been responsible for about 25 of the 100 or so held so far. They have offered drilling and other oil-field equipment and materials, including well-repairing units, pumps, pipes, cable and chemical products. Among other corporate clients of Inmarsys are Bashneft, Tatneft, LUKoil, TNK and Slavneft, as well as SOCAR, Kazakhoil, ITERA, and a number of Ukrainian companies.


Ruvenue Model: Subscriber Feels

The revenue model used by Inmarsys is based on subscription fees charged to access the system, technical support offered to companies and the organization offenders and auctions. According to Vyvolokin, the fee depends on the number of "work places" — logins and passwords — granted to a corporate client, and the term of the contract. For a long-term contract the subscription fee is about $90 a month for one work place, he says. Users of Inmarsys currently number over 7,000.
Inmarsys offers users a chance to sell equipment at auction. Vyvolokin says that several engineering plants took the initiative to start the Auction Sales Division in the middle of last year. At the time, there was a serious demand for some types of oil and gas equipment, and equipment producers such as the Motovilikhinsky engineering plant thought holding an auction would fetch the highest price. Vyvolokin noted also that subscribers shy away from barter deals although some enterprises from Kazakhstan have resorted at times to such a settlement.


Truly a World Market

Besides the former CIS-countries, equipment suppliers participating on the system hail from UK, Romania, Germany, Austria, France, South Korea and Italy. Multinational oil companies with operations in the CIS buy as well.
Inmarsys has practically no competitors today. The closest thing to it is an on-line store that sells oil-products and oil equipment at neftegaz.ru. Managers admit that the range of potential customers is rather narrow, which hampers subscriber growth (and hence growth in revenue). In Russia, there are about a dozen major oil companies and about 150 small ones, most of which are already Inmarsys clients. Also, new products don't often enter this market.
But at the same time, there is amazing opportunity for growth in electronic purchasing, something that the Russian oil industry has yet to utilize to any great extent. The purchasing department at TNK for example, says that while it participates in Inmarsys, it makes less than 1 per cent of all of its equipment purchases there.
The potential therefore is great as Russian companies become more accustomed to completing purchases through the Internet. But this presents a challenge as well to Russian electronic marketing sites, which are not quite prepared as yet to offer the full range of services required.
In their present form, electronic marketing sites only provide information support that enables transactions to take place, simplifying the process of searching for suppliers and equipment.
The maximum degree of automation offered by Inmarsys, is "automarketing" — the search from among posted offers with user-defined parameters and base cases. However, a full-scale electronic purchase is characterized by a completely automated search in which a user simply defines certain basic parameters and the system itself finds all possible variants — and if parameters coincide — the deal is automatically finalized.
However, it seems that this development is not expected to arrive soon on the Russian market.



№ 4 June 2001 "Oil&GAS Eurasia".

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