Vitol Group, the world’s largest independent oil trader, said revenue increased by 2 percent to $303 billion last year and that the firm is still considering asset purchases.
The company traded 261 million metric tons of crude and refined products, down 4.4 percent from 273 million in 2011, it said in a statement on its website today. Vitol, based in Geneva, is evaluating a “variety of new investment opportunities in the midstream and downstream energy sectors,” which typically comprise refining, transportation and storage facilities.
“The solid trading result in 2012 fully reflects our underlying trading performance,” Chief Executive Officer Ian Taylor said in the statement. Still, an increasingly competitive trading environment is placing “additional pressure on margins,” he said.
Global oil demand growth in 2013 will remain “constrained by the continued economic struggles of many of the weaker European economies,” Vitol predicted. This year’s 1 million barrel-a-day increase in world consumption will be outpaced by growth of 1.5 million barrels a day in supplies outside the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, the company said.
Vitol competes in the oil market with closely-held traders such as Trafigura Beheer BV, Gunvor Group Ltd. and Mercuria Energy Trading SA and listed companies such as Glencore International Plc, BP Plc and Royal Dutch Shell Plc.
A Vitol Group venture, Varo Holding SA, last year bought the 68,000 barrel-a-day refinery in Cressier, Switzerland from insolvent Petroplus Holdings AG. The acquisition “underpins Vitol’s expansion into the regional product markets,” according to today’s statement.
“New capacity planned to come online later in 2013 is expected to exceed the growth in demand we are forecasting, so we expect refinery margins to be somewhat lower later this year after an unexpectedly strong first quarter,” Taylor said.
Turning to fuel shipping, Vitol said that the so-called dirty market would be “severely challenged” because long-haul crude oil movement is expected to decline just as the supply of tankers increase.
“On the clean side of the market the outlook is a little brighter as we expect to see greater products exports out of both the Middle East and the US Gulf Coast which may contain the impact of the increase in supply somewhat,” the company said.