|Ian Taylor, CEO|
|Services||Energy trading, Commodity trading|
|Revenue||US$ 270 billion (2014)|
|Owner||Vitol Holding B.V|
Number of employees
The Vitol Group is a global energy and commodity trading company that was founded in Rotterdam in 1966 by Henk Viëtor and Jacques Detiger. Though physical trading, logistics and distribution are at the core of the business, these are complemented by refining, shipping, terminals, exploration and production, power generation, mining and retail businesses. Vitol has almost 40 offices worldwide and its largest operations are in Geneva, Houston, London, and Singapore. With revenues of $270 billion in 2014, it is the largest independent energy trader in the world, and would rank eighth on the Fortune Global 500 list. Because Vitol does not publish its profits widely, much like most of its competitors in commodity trading, it is largely excluded from rankings. But the company does provide financial information to its lenders and some energy groups with which it trades. The company ships more than 270 million tonnes of crude oil per year and controls 200 supertankers and other vessels to move it around the world. On average it handles more than 5 million barrels a day of oil and products - roughly equivalent to the daily consumption of Japan - the world's third largest oil consumer after the United States and China.
The company’s chief executive is Ian Taylor. Vitol is a private company which is owned significantly by a proportion of its employees, who are known for their culture of privacy and secrecy, from both competitors and the general public. In March 2015, the FT suggested that Vitol appeared to make a $1.2 billion dividend distribution. When it comes to the financial industry’s richest and most risk-taking executives, few top those in the world of energy trading.
In addition to the global crude and product trading businesses, the company trades coal, natural gas, power, ethanol, methanol, gasoline, LNG, LPG, naphtha, bitumen, base oils and carbon emissions.
Terminals and infrastructure
In total, Vitol has 17.9 million cubic meters of storage capacity across the globe.
Vitol is the sole owner of VTTI B.V., a storage and terminals business with a capacity of around 8.7 million cubic meters (MCM) in 11 countries: Netherlands (1.328 MCM + 1.118 MCM), Latvia (1.195 MCM), UAE (1.180 MCM), Belgium (0.965 MCM), Malaysia (0.893 MCM), Cyprus (0.544 MCM), USA (0.452 MCM), Argentina (0.218 MCM), Kenya (0.111 MCM), Russia (0.049 MCM), Nigeria (0.016 MCM). MISC Berhad held a 50% stake in VTTI from May 2010 until August 2015.
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.
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. Vitol also has invested in refining assets in Bayernoil, Germany, Cressier, Switzerland, Antwerp, Belgium and the Geelong refinery near Melbourne, Australia.
Exploration and production
Vitol, through its wholly owned subsidiaries Arawak Energy Limited and Vitol E&P, has interests in various exploration and production projects worldwide. Arawak Energy is mainly focused on the FSU where it produces oil and gas in Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan, while Vitol E&P holds a portfolio of exploration and development assets along the West African Transform Margin in Ghana and the Ivory Coast.
In February 2014, it was reported 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. The business trades as Viva Energy Australia, although the Shell brand remains on many of its retail products.
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.
Vitol Aviation is focused on Europe, North America and Africa, serving the world’s largest airlines and militaryers with 9.7 million tonnes of jet fuel a year into wing.
In 2013 Vitol invested in its first power plant, VPI Immingham in the UK. The combined heat and power plant (CHP) is one of the largest of its kind in Europe, capable of generating 1,240 MW and up to 930 tonnes of steam per hour which is used by nearby refineries. The gas-fired plant provides approximately 2.5% of UK peak electricity demand.
In 2015, Vitol traded:
- Oil: 146 million tonnes of crude oil sales
- Natural Gas: over 20 billion cubic meters of physical gas globally
- LPG: 10 million tonnes
- Naphtha: 27 million tonnes
- Gasoline: 650,000 barrels of physical gasoline traded per day
- Coal: over 20 million tonnes
- Power: 102 TWh of power sales contracted
- Carbon: 108 mm tonnes of contracted carbon volume
- Methanol: 1.4 million tonnes
- Chemicals: 4 million tonnes (Benzene and Paraxylene)
A 2001 article in the Observer stated that in 1995 Vitol had secretly paid US$1 million to Serbian war criminal Arkan to settle a deal with a Serbian Oil company, Orion. Vitol has denied all charges, arguing that no government agency has ever prosecuted the company in this respect.
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.
According to an article in the Financial Times, Vitol was the company to organise the first controversial sale of Libyan rebel oil to Tesoro Corporation in early April 2011. 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.
In September 2012, an article in Reuters alleged 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. The article stated that as Vitol is based in Switzerland, which did not implement Western sanctions, Vitol had skirted the charges.
In 2013, The Telegraph alleged that the company had been using for over a decade an Employee Benefit Trust, avoiding paying income tax for its UK staff.
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