Igor Yusufov: The Minister and Reformer Who Found Ways to Cope with Large-Scale Challenges

Igor Yusufov convinced the government and businesses to allocate substantial funds to his homeland’s energy sector, and he was in charge of its successful reform. On a global scale, this professional gained recognition as an efficient negotiator with OPEC, the ExIm Bank, and Halliburton and as one of the organizers of two summits on the highest level. In this article, we will discuss his background and accomplishments.

Igor Yusufov’s Brief Biography

Born in 1956, he is a native of Derbent. As an adolescent, he wanted to work in the energy industry and got a degree at Polytechnic University. He also has a university diploma in economics—he realized the need to complete his competences after a five-year-long business trip to Cuba.

He began to climb the career ladder as an employee of an electricity-generating company. In 1991, he became a public officer. Due to his extensive knowledge and consistently high performance, he was assigned to be an Energy Minister in 2001 and held the position for three years. In business, he initially made a name for himself as a co-founder, CEO, and shareholder of the Russia-Vostok Trading company — in 1996, he sold his stake. From 2008 till 2020, he was focused on investment and entrepreneurial activities — but in 2020, he suspended all his business.

Specifics of the Industry

Long before Igor Yusufov was appointed minister, the energy sector in his country entered a sweeping crisis. Privatization allowed entrepreneurs to gain control over a disproportionately large industry segment. Businesses needed more money to renovate the power plants and purchase modern equipment. A rigid chain of command restricted the management. Before making a decision, the executives had to coordinate it with their supervisors on one or several higher levels. Such an approach took too much time and led to confusion.

The state needed to provide the industry with the necessary support. Selected municipalities struggled to pay their electricity bills because they needed more cash. Regular money transfers had become obsolete in specific niches because all the parties involved opted for barter.

Such a situation demanded drastic measures, but the resources were too limited. At that time, the minister had to be not only decisive but also ingenious.

Solutions That He Came Up With

Igor Yusufov insisted on returning some of the privatized facilities to the state. The multi-level control of supervisors was loosened, and local executives obtained much-needed managerial freedom. A step-by-step plan was drafted for reconstructing the plants. After the initial stages of the plan were carried out, the plants nearly doubled the amount of electricity produced.

In addition to the nationwide reform, Igor Yusufov convinced prominent American businesses to invest in his country of origin. Later, as a businessman, he persuaded ExIm Bank to provide financial support for a new oil and gas project. He was instrumental in attracting Halliburton to the project—the giant helped by sharing its knowledge and technologies.

The situation on an International Level

The global energy market needs more stability and security. Its participants need to join efforts to regulate production and prices. Countries can be divided into two categories: those that export fuel and those that import it. They need to establish a productive dialog and foster cooperation.

National governments should update the legal norms to make their territories more attractive to foreign investors and ensure transparency. Businesses with considerable expertise should share it with those who need it. These are the conditions that Igor Yusufov, a state official and businessman, promoted.

Achievements When Dealing with Foreign Partners

He justified the urge of the OPEC members to reduce oil production. Consequently, the market stabilized.

He initiated and participated in the group that ran two profile summits in 2002 and 2003. Businessmen, scholars, and state representatives met to analyze the sector’s goals, potential, and challenges. This professional participated in both gatherings and left his signature on their final statements.