Oil 4 Wales

Richard Easton
Portfolio Executive

Oil 4 Wales is an independent fuel supplier providing a much-needed range of services to homes, businesses, commercial premises, agricultural and retail customers throughout Wales.

The family-run business was established in the heart of Wales by Colin Owens, who built the company with the support of his wife Shirley, daughter Sally, and son Paul.

Established in 2010, they wanted to create a truly Welsh oil brand with an emphasis on giving a great deal to support the communities of Wales.

Moreover, the company were keen to helping Wales reduce its carbon emissions and are planning to change its name to Green 4 Wales - committing to achieving a decarbonised future for the liquid fuel distribution sector.

How has the plan to change to Green 4 Wales come about?

Since setting up Oil 4 Wales in 2010, Colin has led the business as it built itself into the biggest independent oil firm in Wales, with annual revenues of £115m and a nationwide network of forecourts and depots.

Following a successful decade with the business, Colin has now shifted his focus onto climate change. He has stated that the company were looking to transition away from fossil fuels, as it looks to seek to build a greener future.

This commitment was reaffirmed in June 2021, when the firm partnered with Riversimple Movement in Llandrindod Wells.

The agreement would see Oil 4 Wales provide refuellers for hydrogen-powered electric cars at their existing fuel sites, as part of their commitment to transition away from fossil fuels to clean forms of energy as part of the move to a greener business model.

This was followed by the news that Oil 4 Wales were changing its name to Green 4 Wales, double downing on their pledge to produce environmentally friendly alternatives to fossil fuels.

They embarked on this journey when they opened their first AdBlue plant, with the aim to reduce emissions from Diesel engines. Moreover, Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO) Fuel – one of the cleanest fuels on the market – Adblue is available for delivery from Green 4 Wales, helping businesses reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by up to 90%.

Sally Williams, Director stated: “It is ever more important in the current climate to look to the future to protect and save the environment wherever possible. As an oil company, this is a difficult task but one which we are fully committed to, hence the proposed transition over the next 12 months to Green 4 Wales.”

“It is vital that the oil industry supports greener fuel additives and solutions to reduce emissions, which will result in cleaner air quality for us all and help with world climate change targets.”

These efforts were recognised by the UK and Ireland Fuel Distributors Association (UKIFDA), who awarded the business with the Green Award for 2022 for its efforts in transitioning the business to Green 4 Wales.

The Carmarthen-headquartered family-run business has been praised for its commitment to achieving a decarbonised future for the liquid fuel distribution sector by exploring a number of initiatives to decarbonise Wales.

These efforts include the opening of Wales’ first AdBlue production plant in Sennybridge in July 2021, manufacturing the green fuel concentrate using a high-purity urea solution and Welsh water.

Life as Oil 4 Wales

Colin

Colin founded Owens Fuel with major shareholder John Williams in 1991, and they built the business into the largest oil company in Wales. They decided to sell it at its peak, with turnover at £350m, selling to Texaco for £3.5m in 1997. As part of the sale agreement, Colin would stay to run the business for 10 years.

In 2003 Chevron bought Texaco worldwide, and Texaco Equity Distributors (which Owens Fuels was part of) was acquired by Irish plc DCC in 2008, whose business model Colin disagreed with. Colin soon left the oil industry and went to work at Ffos Las racecourse.

His time away from oil did not last too long, with Colin returning 18 months later to set up Oil 4 Wales at the suggestion of his daughter Sally Williams.

"I was fortunate I was respected in the oil industry, and I had built up a good reputation."

This proved to be the right decision. Today, the Carmarthenshire-headquartered firm operates eight depots across Wales, including Cardiff, Brecon, Milford Haven, Felinfach, Powys, and Blaenau Ffestiniog.

The business has rapidly expanded, and they currently employ 170 staff, whilst having around 40 trucks, and serving a customer base of 100,000.

In addition to the oil company Colin and the team ventured outside the oil industry to take advantage of redundant space vacated at their Nantycaws filling station.

The birth of Hollol Gymraeg

Hollol Gymraeg

In August 2018, Oil 4 Wales received a £350,000 investment from the Development Bank to build a new café at Nantycaws filling station, where they sell locally sourced Welsh produce at the site overlooking Brechfa Forest and the Black Mountain range.

The loan from the Development Bank paid for the development at the filling station, to include the conversion and enlargement of the shop into a new tourist shop and restaurant, which opened in 2020, is known as Hollol Gymraeg.

“I was so impressed with the Development Bank Investment Executive; Richard was so easy to communicate with. He understood what we were trying to achieve with the garage and the location,” Colin said.

With the garage based on the eastbound carriageway of the main route from west Wales to Cardiff and Newport, Colin felt it had great potential to attract travellers.

“The garage had no investment in it in for over 20 years. The location with the view over the Black Mountain range cried out for investment to attract more tourists and locals if we can provide the services, such as a cafeteria and a tourist shop, all stocked with Welsh produce,” said Colin.

Moreover, Colin admitted that the decision to open a new café is a response to the concerns over the oil industry declining in the future.

“Why did we decide to open a restaurant? Well, the oil industry will shrink and there will be less of a need for oil distributors. But all our drivers could wholesale food from Welsh markets, and we can become a food distribution-type business,” said the entrepreneur.

There are plans to open a second restaurant in Porthmadog in the future.

The future for Green 4 Wales

Sally Williams

As Green 4 Wales prepares for a most environmentally sustainable future, Colin has taken a step back from the company, lending his expertise as a consultant.

His daughter Sally has taken on the role of Managing Director, they are hoping to expand and grow as time passes. Looking ahead to the future, Colin has made it clear that he does not want to sell the business under any circumstances.

“Oil 4 Wales will never be sold,” he says.

“My daughter’s got to understand that. It has got to be a legacy for the Welsh communities.”

By all accounts, the fact that the Owen family are looking to build a greener future is great news for the communities all across Wales.