• Barbe to be based in London and will oversee Africa activities
  • Industry veteran previously ran Total’s trading operations

Vitol Group, the world’s largest independent oil trader, appointed Pierre Barbe as head of its African activities, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Vitol, which trades over 6 million barrels of oil per day, has extensive operations in Africa with offices in countries including Angola and South Africa. The company is a partner in the Sankofa offshore gas fields in Ghana along with Italy’s Eni and Ghana’s national oil company. Barbe, who was the global head of trading and shipping at France’s Total SA from 2007 to 2014, will oversee those activities from London.

Barbe joined Total in 1983, and rose to the position of global head of trading and shipping in 2007. Total appointed Thomas Waymel, former head of crude trading in Geneva, to succeed Barbe in the post in 2014.

Oil traders have done well during the oil downturn, rewarded by a surge in volatility and the profitability of holding crude oil in storage because of a price structure called contango. Vitol reported net profit of $1.6 billion last year -- the fourth highest ever.

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