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Vitol Group of Companies
Industry Commodity
Founded 1966; 49 years ago (1966)
Rotterdam, Netherlands[1]
Founder Henk Viëtor[1][2]
Jacques Detiger[1][2]
Headquarters Geneva, Switzerland
Area served
Key people
Ian Taylor, CEO[3]
Services Energy trading, Commodity trading
Revenue Decrease US$ 270 billion (2014)
Owner Vitol Holding B.V
Number of employees
5,441 (2014)

The Vitol Group is a Swiss-based, Dutch-owned multinational energy and commodity trading company. It was founded in Rotterdam in 1966 by Henk Viëtor and Jacques Detiger,[1][2] and is a private company, with 350 employees making up its shareholders. Head offices are located in Rotterdam and Geneva, Switzerland. With 2013 revenues of $307 billion (up from $303 billion in 2012), the company ships more than 270 million tonnes of crude oil per year and is the largest independent energy trader in the world.[4]


Vitol's main operations are based in Geneva, Houston, Singapore, and London. In addition to the global crude and product trading businesses, the company trades coal, natural gas, power, agricultural products, ethanol, methanol, gasoline, LNG, LPG, naphtha and carbon emissions.[5][6]

Vitol has interests in various oil storage terminals and exploration and production projects worldwide. The latter includes ownership of Arawak,[4] with production in Russia, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan,[7] and holds a growing portfolio of exploration and development assets in West Africa, including in Cameroon,[8][9] Ghana.[10][11][12] Ivory Coast, Nigeria and Congo Brazzaville.

In addition to its trading business Vitol owns a 50% share in the storage and terminals business, VTTI, which has an asset value in excess of $1 billion and current capacity of around 8.5 million cubic metres in fourteen countries. Current key locations include Amsterdam and Europoort in the Netherlands, Seaport Canaveral, Florida, and a 49% share of the Ventspils terminal in Latvia.[13] In May 2010, MISC Bhd of Malaysia acquired 50% of VTTI for $735 million.[14] In January 2012 Vitol acquired a stake in a subsidiary of the South African shipping firm Grindrod, which gives it access to a coal terminal in Mozambique.[15]

In addition to offices in Dubai and Bahrain, Vitol's key strategic asset in the Middle East is the Fujairah Refinery Company Limited (FRCL), which operates an 82,000 barrel per day refinery and a 1,034,000 cubic meter tank farm. FRCL has further development plans in place, which include a 140,000 cubic meter expansion of the tank farm, refurbishment of existing refining units and the installation of additional processing units.[16] Vitol also has refining assets in Cressier, Switzerland and in Antwerp, Belgium.

In February 2014, it was announced that Vitol, in concert with the Abu Dhabi Investment Council, had bought the downstream businesses of Shell Australia (excluding aviation) for a total of approximately AU$2.9 billion. The purchase included Shell's Geelong Refinery and its 870-site retail business, along with its bulk fuels, bitumen, chemicals and part of its lubricants businesses in Australia.[17] The business trades as Viva Energy Australia, although the Shell brand remains on many of its retail products.[18]

Further in January 2015, Vitol in collaboration with Eni signed a $7 billion agreement with the government, for the production of oil and gas at Cape Three Points in Western Region of Ghana. The contract is expected to help meet Ghana's burgeoning energy needs.[19]


In 2013, Vitol traded:[6]

  • Oil: 276 million tonnes of crude and oil products
  • Natural Gas: 20 billion cubic meters in Europe
  • LPG: 9.3 million tonnes
  • Naphtha: 18 million tonnes
  • Gasoline: 750,000 barrels of physical gasoline traded per day
  • Coal: 24 million tonnes
  • Power: 320 TWh
  • Carbon: 350 million tonnes of contracted carbon volume
  • Methanol: 1.5 million tonnes
  • Chemicals: 3 million tonnes (Benzene and Paraxylene)
  • Sugar: 2.5 million tonnes


In 1995, Vitol secretly supplied Slobodan Milošević's government with oil.[20] The Observer revealed in 2001 that Vitol paid 1 million pounds to Serbian war criminal Željko Ražnatović to settle an oil deal with Milošević.[21] Vitol has denied all charges, arguing that no government agency has ever prosecuted the company in this respect.[22]

In 2007, Vitol pleaded guilty to grand larceny in a New York court for paying surcharges to Iraq's national oil company during Saddam's regime and circumventing the UN oil-for-food program. Vitol subsequently paid $17.5 million in restitution for its actions.[23]

Vitol was the company to organise the first controversial sale of Libyan rebel oil to Tesoro Corporation in early April 2011.[24] According to the Financial Times, the company was approached by the Qatari national oil company to sell a cargo of crude oil supplied by the Libyans in exchange for technological supplies and fuel for the National Transitional Council of Libya.[25]

In September 2012, Reuters revealed that the company had bought and sold Iranian fuel oil, bypassing an EU embargo against Tehran. Vitol bought 2 million barrels using a ship-to-ship transfer off the coast of Malaysia from a National Iranian Tanker Company vessel and sold it to Chinese traders. Being based in Switzerland, which did not implement Western sanctions, Vitol skirted the charges.[26]

In 2013, it was revealed that the company had been using for over a decade an Employee Benefit Trust, avoiding paying income tax for its UK staff.[27]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Meet The Mysterious Trading Firms Who Control The Price Of Commodities". BusinessNews. 2011-10-31. Retrieved 2012-03-04. 
  2. ^ a b c Schneyer, Joshua (2011-10-28). "Commodity Traders: The trillion dollar club". Reuters. Retrieved 2012-04-11. 
  3. ^ "Vitol Holding B.V.: Private Company Information". Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved 5 January 2012. 
  4. ^ a b "Rosco Announces Cash Offer For Arawak". Oil Voice. 2008-10-28. Retrieved 2009-02-09. 
  5. ^ "Vitol, RNK Capital Complete Inaugural Trade on The Green Exchange" (PDF) (Press release). Evolution Markets Inc. 2008-03-17. Retrieved 2009-02-09. 
  6. ^ a b Retrieved on April 1, 2014
  7. ^ Vitol Website: Vitol in the Former Soviet Union
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ Vitol Group - Silobreaker
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ Vitol is Ready to Invest in Ventspils Nafta, but Expects Support from Latvian Government - The Baltic Course
  14. ^ MISC buys stake in VTTI for RM2.36bil-Malaysia Star
  15. ^ Reuters Africa: Vitol buys stake in Grindrod's coal terminal
  16. ^ "UAE's Fujairah sells refinery stake to Vitol". Reuters. 2007-05-04. Retrieved 2009-02-09. 
  17. ^ Fowles, Shane (2014-02-21). "Vitol to retain jobs at Geelong refinery after buying Shell’s assets". Geelong Advertiser. Retrieved 2014-02-21. 
  18. ^ "Viva Energy Australia". Viva Energy Australia. Retrieved 2015-09-07. 
  19. ^ Gadugah, Nathan (2015-01-27). "Gov't signs $7billion oil and gas agreement to produce 1100 megawatts power". Joy Online. Retrieved 2015-09-07. 
  20. ^ Barnett, Antony; Bright, Martin (2001-07-01). "Oil chief paid m to warlord". The Guardian (London). 
  21. ^ Retrieved on April 1, 2014
  22. ^ Retrieved on April 1, 2014
  23. ^ Retrieved on April 1, 2014
  24. ^ Schneyer, Joshua (2011-05-25). "US refiner Tesoro buys cargo of Libyan rebel oil". Reuters. 
  25. ^ Retrieved on April 1, 2014
  26. ^ Retrieved on April 1, 2014
  27. ^ Retrieved on April 1, 2014

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