“Take your work seriously, but not yourself.”- CEO Q&A with Kevin McPartlan of Fuels for Ireland

By Business & Finance
03 July 2024

Kevin McPartlan has been CEO of Fuels for Ireland since august 2018. Fuels for Ireland – formerly known as the Irish Petroleum Industry Association – brings together companies involved in the importation, distribution and marketing of petroleum products, low carbon liquid fuels and other means to power transport, heating, agriculture, aviation and industry in Ireland; all in an effort to make Ireland a carbon neutral country

What are your main priorities and goals in your role?

My main priority, and that of Fuels for Ireland, is to be the voice of the sector. This means providing effective, credible and constructive advocacy that demonstrates the role of liquid fuels during the transition to carbon neutrality – and beyond.

I aim to bridge the gap between our industry’s efforts and public perception, ensuring our contributions are recognised and valued.

What are your biggest challenges as CEO?

As in any leadership position, one must balance the urgent and the important. While fuel prices often capture media and policy attention, I must focus on
highlighting how the liquid fuels sector is working to help achieve net-zero by 2050.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given, or would give, in business?

The main thing is to keep the main thing, the main thing.

What are the challenges facing the industry going forward?


Many assume we’re climate change deniers or determined to perpetuate fossil fuel dependency. Therefore, much of our public affairs engagement starts with establishing our commitment in tackling the climate emergency. We’ve made significant strides, but continuous effort is needed to change these perceptions.

What new trends are emerging in your industry?

“Emerging trends” doesn’t adequately describe the current scope, scale and speed change in the fuels sector! We are in the midst of revolution rather than evolution.

Already we provide EV charging on a greater proportion of forecourts than in any other EU Member State, but Fuels for Ireland member companies are now putting
fossil-free, low-carbon liquid fuel onto the market for transport and heating. Our members are also increasing the biofuels blended into diesel and petrol, driving a
shift towards greener energy.

Are there any major changes you would like to see in your sector?

The changes I would most like to see are not specific to the fuels sector, but rather to the world of industry associations and lobbying.

Historically, relationships between politics and business interests have sometimes been unhealthy. Regulation was required and the way in which public affairs operates had to evolve to meet higher standards but I fear the pendulum may have swung too far. Industry voices are essential to effective policy development, but often they are excluded from critical debates.

How do you define success and what drives you to succeed?

Success for Fuels for Ireland is measured by the influence we exert over government policy as we work towards the shared objective of net carbon-zero by 2050. Of
course, that must be built while maintaining the highest of ethical standards, corporate governance and financial management. But we are in the advocacy

It may be thought of as a strange thing for the leader of a fuel industry association to say, but I am committed to informing public debate and policy development to
support our members’ delivery of their obligation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – ultimately to net-zero.

What have been your highlights in business over the past year?

Over the past year, it has been gratifying to see the growing recognition from the government, regulators, the business community, and families that low carbon liquid fuels can significantly reduce carbon emissions from transport and heating.

The large-scale substitution of hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) for diesel is the first large-scale demonstration of advanced, synthetic and biofuels which will replace fossil fuels in the ICE fleet in Ireland. I am proud of the role that Fuels for Ireland has played in making this possible.

What’s next for your company?

We are focused on building influence to deliver value to members by contributing to policies that ensure a stable and secure energy supply, and the sustainability of our members’ businesses

Where do you want your business to be this time next year?

In the next year, our focus will be on the General Election. We aim to ensure that the next Programme for Government includes commitments that allow the fuels sector to realise its potential in reducing emissions while continuing to supply half of Ireland’s energy needs.

What is the best book you’ve ever read (non-business) and why?

I have been a fan of William Trevor’s work for over 30 years, particularly his short stories. They are beautifully written, and carry massive emotional weight. “Last Stories,” published after his death, is my favourite collection. Its a book I return to often and one Ive gifted to many special people.

What is your favourite hobby and why?

As a teenager, I was a decent drummer. After a long hiatus, I bought an electronic drum kit a couple of years ago. I enjoy putting on headphones and playing, knowing that no one else can hear how rusty I’ve become. Its a fun, stress-relieving activity.

What is your mantra for life?

Take your work seriously, but not yourself.


Fergal O’Connor , CEO, Buymedia

Chris Mee, CEO, EHS International 

Norman Barry,  Managing Director, Insight Private Clients