Oil Trader Vitol Jumps into EV Fleet Business
(Bloomberg) -- Vitol Group, the world’s biggest independent oil trader, is jumping into the electric-vehicle fleet business.
The Rotterdam-based trading house formed a $250 million joint venture with BYD Co., a Chinese EV and battery maker, it said in a statement. The new service will offer electric-car fleet services and charging infrastructure to cities, companies and other organizations.
It’s the latest foray by Vitol, which handles more than 7 million barrels of oil a day, into renewables and green energy. The company has invested over $1 billion in solar, wind and other cleaner fuels as governments and consumers seek more environmentally friendly energy sources and producers diversify away from the dirtiest fuels.
Vitol has also invested in transportation infrastructure with investments in fuel stations in emerging markets. It has even started buying used cars in Pakistan and Turkey.
The new venture will target “organizations, private and public, looking to decarbonise their fleets through electrification,” Vitol said.
The energy trader didn’t specify what markets the JV would target, but said it has already deployed over 300 electric buses in Bogota, Colombia, and would look for more opportunities in South America.
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EXCLUSIVE Mexico's Pemex cancels several Vitol contracts after graft scandal
MEXICO CITY, Sept 15 (Reuters) - Mexican state oil company Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) has canceled three contracts with Vitol, the latest fallout from a U.S. bribery case involving the world's largest independent energy trader.
Three separate Pemex documents seen by Reuters and a source familiar with the matter provide as the reason for the cancellation Vitol's public acknowledgement in December, in a deal with the U.S. Department of Justice, that it paid kickbacks to win business with the Mexican state oil company, as well as state companies in Brazil and Ecuador.
Pemex's decision has not previously been reported.
In letters to Vitol (VITOLV.UL), all dated within the past two months, Pemex (PEMX.UL) informed the energy trader of the cancellation of a contract for butane gas, one for naphtha, and one for propane gas. The propane contract encompassed four separate deals.
The world's largest independent commodity traders are facing scrutiny globally for alleged corruption after years of investigations into bribes of public officials in several countries in Latin America.
In March, Reuters reported that Mexico was looking to renegotiate some of its hundreds of millions of dollars-worth of contracts with the Geneva-based company. Pemex CEO Octavio Romero Oropeza said it would jettison terms it considered unfavorable. read more
Vitol confirmed that, to date, talks with Pemex had come to no final result, but did not address whether contracts had been canceled.
In a statement to Reuters, the company said that, in the wake of the corruption scandal, it had accepted responsibility for its actions and acknowledged the state oil company's concerns.
"Vitol acknowledged Pemex's concerns, and over several months senior officials at both Vitol and Pemex sought to negotiate a resolution acceptable to both parties. Although the discussions did not lead to an agreement between the companies, Vitol remains open to continuing its dialogue with Pemex officials and working toward a mutually beneficial solution," Vitol said.
Pemex and President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's office did not respond to a request for comment for this story.
The source familiar with the negotiations said the canceled contracts were in total worth millions of dollars and were all valid until at least 2023. Reuters could not determine their exact value.
The source said Pemex officials had pulled the plug on contract negotiations after Vitol officials refused their proposed changes to terms.
Reuters was unable to determine the terms in question or the size of Vitol's business in Mexico as the supply contracts are not public. Mexico is the fourth-largest importer of refined oil.
Several requests for the contracts Mexico has with Vitol and other energy traders under the freedom of information act were denied.
In December, Houston-based Vitol Americas agreed to pay $164 million to U.S. and Brazilian authorities after admitting it bribed officials in Mexico, Brazil and Ecuador between 2015 and 2020 to obtain business with state oil companies there.
In July, Reuters also reported that Pemex's commercial arm PMI had temporarily banned new business with Trafigura (TRAFGF.UL), the world's second-largest oil trader after Vitol, as investigations into the conducts of large energy traders in several countries deepen.
An internal PMI memo to staff dated July, which was seen by Reuters, gave no reason for the ban. Trafigura said on Sunday that its "compliance policies and procedures have been fully reviewed and found by independent external counsel to meet the highest standard of compliance required by law across all jurisdictions in which Trafigura operates."
Some Mexican energy market sources questioned how Pemex would be able to source some of its refined products with both Vitol and Trafigura at least partially banned, though others said the severity of the problem was not yet clear.
Ramses Pech, a Mexican energy expert, said Pemex could fall back on other energy traders like Valero or ExxonMobil.
"But it would depend on the volume and time of contracts," he said. "Also, it would need companies that have the infrastructure needed for production, logistics and storage in the United States and Mexico."
ExxonMobil declined to comment, Valero did not respond to a request for comment.
Last month, Mexico's tax chief told Reuters the government was investigating Vitol over "irregularities" in the documentation of its refined oil products entering Mexico, which could lead to criminal charges for tax evasion. read more
Vitol denied any wrongdoing. It said the allegations dated back a couple of years and are related to imports classified by another company it worked with.
Reporting by Stefanie Eschenbacher Additional reporting by Ana Isabel Martinez in Mexico City, Julia Payne in London, and Erwin Seba and Sabrina Valle in Houston Editing by Daniel Flynn and Alistair Bell
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
A physical presence in all major global markets
Vitol’s culture is integral to the business. It characterises the way our people work, creates an optimal working environment and underpins its success.
Vitol’s culture originated over 50 years ago with our founders and their combination of entrepreneurship, determination to succeed, integrity, hard work and humility. As the company has grown, the company’s leadership has been mindful to preserve and evolve the elements it believes to be both the foundations of a successful business and conducive to a pleasant and constructive working environment.
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Work with us
Our people are our business. It is on our people’s expertise, innovation, drive and relationships that we depend for the development and growth of our business. Talent is precious to us and we strive to create an environment in which individuals from a diverse range of backgrounds can reach their full potential.
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Dutch energy and commodity trading company
|Founded||1966; 55 years ago (1966)|
|Headquarters||Geneva, Switzerland; Rotterdam, Netherlands |
Number of locations
|40 principally Geneva|
|Russell Hardy, CEO|
|Services||Energy trading, Commodity trading|
|Revenue||US$ 225 billion (2019)|
|$2.3 billion (2019)|
|Owner||Vitol Holding II S.A.|
Number of employees
|Subsidiaries||Varo Energy, Petrol Ofisi, Vencer Energy, VPI Immingham, Sargeant Marine of Harry Sargeant III, Euromin, Cockett Marine Oil of Rusia, OVH Energy, Hillsborough Resources, Rosco, Ronaco Holding B.V., Anchor Insurance Rotterdam B.V., Raffia Oil, Geo-Alliance Oil-Gas and also owns Arawak Energy thanks to Rosco acquisition and also owns and controls the Port of Fujairah and partly the Habshan–Fujairah oil pipeline, Vitol Tank Terminals International BV (VTTI)|
Vitol is a Dutch 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, and retail businesses. Vitol has 40 offices worldwide and its largest operations are in Geneva, Houston, London, and Singapore. With revenues of $231 billion in 2018, it is the largest independent energy trader in the world, and would rank ninth 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. The company does provide financial information to its lenders and some energy groups with which it trades. The company ships more than 350 million tonnes of crude oil per year and controls 250 supertankers and other vessels to move it around the world. On average it handles more than 7 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.
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 Financial Times suggested that Vitol appeared to make a $1.2 billion dividend distribution.
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 around 16 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). In 2018, Vitol bought the 85,000 barrel per day Rotterdam Condensate Splitter from Koch Industries.
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, 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 military customers with 5.7 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 2018, Vitol traded:
- Oil: 351 million tonnes of crude oil and product sales
- Natural Gas: over 20 billion cubic meters of physical gas globally
- LPG: 14 million tonnes
- Naphtha: 15 million tonnes
- Gasoline: 1 million barrels of physical gasoline traded per day
- Coal: over 30 million tonnes
- Power: 93 TWh of power sales contracted
- Carbon: 49 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.
In 2018, The Dispute Settlement and Sanctions Committee of CRE, the French Energy Regulatory Commission, fined VITOL S.A. € 5 million for engaging in market manipulation on the French Southern virtual Gas Trading Point (“PEG Sud”) between 1 June 2013 and 31 March 2014. Vitol appealed this decision,  but the French Council of State confirmed the sanction in June 2021.
In 2020, Vitol Inc. agreed to pay a combined total criminal penalty of $135 million to resolve bribery charges with law enforcement authorities in the United States and Brazil. The resolution arises out of Vitol schemes to pay bribes to officials in Brazil, Ecuador and Mexico.
Vitol Asia Pte Ltd
Vitol Asia Pte Ltd operates as an energy and commodities company, and offers refining, trading, shipping, and storage of crude oil and energy products.
The company was founded in April 1990 and is headquartered in Singapore. The CEO is Hui Meng Kho.
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