March 29, 2019 [Reuters] – The world’s largest oil trader notes the trend towards alternative energy sources and is investing in technologies to that end.
Vitol cemented its position as the world’s largest oil trader in 2018 and said it saw oil demand rising for at least for another 15 years before slowing amid global attempts to expand green energy.
The firm, run out of London, said its traded crude and products volumes rose to 7.4-million barrels a day (bpd) in 2018. In 2017, it said its volumes were 7.2-million bpd. Total oil volume was 357-million tonnes, up slightly from 349-million tonnes the previous year, it said in a statement.
Crude continued to represent the bulk of those volumes, rising to 3.8-million bpd from 3.6-million in 2017. On the products side, petrol volume rebounded by 30% to 440-million tonnes while fuel oil and naphtha declined. Its traded liquefied natural gas volume rose to 7.8-million tonnes in 2018, up from 7.4-million tonnes.
Turnover increased on the back of rising oil prices to $231bn in 2018, up from $181bn in 2017. Vitol did not disclose its net profit. The Financial Times reports that the firm’s net income was $1.7bn, excluding a $200m hit for currency and depreciation, compared with $1.5bn in 2017.
Vitol said it recognised the trend towards alternative energy sources and was investing in technologies that may form part of the energy transition. “We anticipate that oil demand will continue to grow for the next 15 years, even with a marked increase in the sales of electric vehicles, but that demand growth will begin to be impacted thereafter,” it said.
The year was also marked by raising cash from major assets, namely Vitol’s downstream businesses Viva Energy Australia and Vivo Energy that were both listed. The firm also completed the acquisition of Noble Group’s oil business, increased its stake in storage firm VTTI to 50% and bought a 50% stake in Brazilian retail network Rodoil.
A major upstream investment in Nigeria is expected to close later this year, the company said. Vitol is part of a consortium that agreed to buy Petrobras’s interests in two major Nigerian oil blocks that produce about 370,000 bpd for $1.41bn. Oil and gas production in its Ghana interest was ramping up to 85,000 bpd, it said.