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Vitol

Vitol

Industry: 
Energy
Value of USG Contracts: 
15
States: 
FL
KS
TX
Country: 
Switzerland
Sources: 

“Multiple companies currently exploring new business ventures in Iran are also cashing in on highly lucrative contracts with the U.S. Defense Department, raising questions about whether their dealings with Iran could run afoul of U.S. law. At least 13 major international companies have said in recent weeks that they aim to reenter the Iranian marketplace over the next several months. The companies have received Pentagon contracts totaling well over $107 billion, according to a Washington Free Beacon analysis that tracked DoD contracts awarded since fiscal year 2009. Many of the companies, which include carmaker Renault and oil giants such as BP, have already sent high-level trade delegations to Tehran to meet with Iranian officials about striking new business deals…These companies include Boeing and General Electric—which have DoD contracts worth $87 and $12 billion respectively—as well as the Italian oil company EniMerck, Safran, Vitol, Bosch RexrothSanofi Pastuer, and AVL.” (Washington Free Beacon, “Pentagon Contractors Exploring Business with Iran,” 2/25/14)

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"Royal Dutch Shell PLC and Vitol Group SA met Thursday with Iran's oil minister in Vienna, the minister said, as Tehran takes its first steps toward reopening its energy industry following decades of sanctions. As it tries to lure back oil companies, Iran also signaled it could offer production-sharing agreements in the Caspian Sea. Such deals are considered attractive to companies but haven't been awarded in Iran since the 1970s. Bijan Zanganeh, who was in Vienna for the meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, said he had met with executives from Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell, the world's largest oil trader Vitol, Austria's and Italy's Eni SpA…In recent weeks, Tehran has resumed preliminary talks with European oil giants to invest in its oil fields in the event that the sanctions are eased…'A various range of cooperation' was discussed with Vitol, [Mr. Zanganeh] said. Vitol, which declined to comment, is discussing possible purchases of condensates once sanctions are lifted, according to people familiar with the situation." (Wall Street Journal, "European Energy Companies Meet With Iranian Oil Minister," 12/5/13)

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"Iraq's Kurdistan region is exporting crude oil by truck to an Iranian port for shipping to Asia, industry sources say, using a trade route that is likely to anger both Baghdad and Washington . . . For the past two months, crude has been trucked from Kurdish fields over the border to Iran's Bandar Imam Khomeini (BIK) terminal, 900 km (560 miles) to the south on the Gulf. Amounts are unclear but could be as much as 30,000 bpd, they said . . . At Iran's BIK terminal, the truckloads of crude are pooled in storage tanks and then pumped onto ships for export. The tankers sail directly to Asia or to storage facilities at Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates and elsewhere in the Gulf, where the crude is kept in tank farms part-owned by European companies, AIS Live ship tracking data shows and industry sources say. At least a dozen tankers have loaded crude or fuels at BIK over the past few months and unloaded them at the Vopak Horizon terminal in Fujairah - part-owned by Dutch Royal Vopak - and at VTTI Fujairah, a nearby terminal which is 50 percent-owned by Swiss trader Vitol, according to ship tracking data and terminal operators. EU sanctions prohibit European companies from dealing in Iranian oil and any crude and oil products, regardless of origin, that have been exported from Iranian ports. But the joint ventures running the terminals are not incorporated in the European Union . . . 'the Vitol group of companies has ceased all business dealings with Iran; including the sales of refined product to Iran and all purchases of crude oil from Iran,' a spokeswoman said." (Reuters, "Iraqi Kurdistan opens official crude oil trade route via Iran-sources," 7/10/12).

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"A group of seven members of the Swiss Social Democrats Party raised the issue in September after Reuters revealed that the Bahraini branch of top Geneva-based oil trader Vitol was buying and selling Iranian fuel oil." (Reuters, "Swiss govt. rejects proposal to widen Iran oil reporting rules," 11/16/2012)

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"Danish oil and shipping group A.P. Moller Maersk says it will talk to Vitol to determine whether one of its tankers was used by the trading house to ship Iranian fuel oil. The Maersk Producer, a tanker chartered by Vitol from Maersk, received a fuel oil cargo of Iranian origin on Sept. 8, according to a document seen by Reuters. The cargo was transferred aboard the Danish tanker from Vitol's floating storage off Malaysia, the document shows, and shipped to storage in Singapore. Vitol admitted last week its Bahrain office had bought the Iranian fuel oil but said it had now ordered a stop to all trade with Iran, which is under European and U.S. oil and financial sanctions. Based in Switzerland and trading the oil from Bahrain, Vitol did not contravene sanctions... 'Not at any point did we know that the vessel would be used to transport oil under embargo and we will bring this up for discussion with Vitol at the highest level,' said Per Juul, managing director of the agent for Maersk, in an e-mail response to questions. 'If it is confirmed that it was Iranian oil the consequences will have to be discussed with Vitol...we have contacted our insurance company about this issue.' A spokesman for Vitol said the company would 'cooperate fully' in any talks with Maersk." (Reuters, "Danish shipper asks Vitol if tanker used for Iran oil," 10/3/2012)

 

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"Vitol, the world's largest oil trader, is buying and selling Iranian fuel oil, undermining Western efforts to choke the flow of petrodollars to Tehran and put pressure on Iran's suspected nuclear weapons program. Vitol last month bought 2 million barrels of fuel oil, used for power generation, from Iran and offered it to Chinese traders, Reuters established in interviews with 10 oil trading, industry and shipping sources in Southeast Asia, China and the Middle East. The Swiss-based firm issued a statement saying Vitol Group is in compliance with all international laws on trade with Iran. 'A Bahraini subsidiary company purchased a spot cargo of fuel oil from a non Iranian counterparty in July 2012. The fuel oil delivered under contract was of Iranian origin. Vitol Group companies no longer purchase any product of Iranian origin,' Vitol said, without elaborating. Vitol is not obliged to comply with a ban imposed in July by the European Union on trading oil with Iran because Switzerland decided not to match EU and U.S. sanctions against Tehran...  Privately-held Vitol SA is led by its long-time CEO Ian Taylor, a Briton. Taylor was among leading donors to Britain's ruling Conservative Party named in March by the Prime Minister's office as having dined with David Cameron at his private apartment in Downing Street amid the fall-out from a 'cash for access' party funding scandal... Vitol has said previously it is in compliance with sanctions against Iran, but has declined to say whether or not it would follow the strict EU regulations rather than Switzerland's... A spokeswoman for Switzerland's federal department responsible for sanctions, SECO, said Vitol's Swiss branch had confirmed it was not involved in the purchase of Iranian fuel oil in July. She said EU and Swiss law did not apply to Vitol's trading branch in Bahrain. She declined to say if Vitol was on a list of companies that had sought permission to trade Iranian oil, citing commercial secrecy... Vitol last year earned record revenue of $297 billion, a near-five-fold increase since 2004. It does not reveal profits... Vitol acquired the Iranian fuel oil early this month in a ship-to-ship transfer off Malaysia from a National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC) vessel, the Leadership, onto a Vitol-chartered tanker, the Ticen Ocean... Industry sources in Tanjung Pelepas who monitor shipping transfer operations in Malaysian waters said Vitol later brought alongside another tanker, the Speranza, to replace the Ticen Ocean as floating storage... Vitol also transferred some of its fuel oil from the Ticen Ocean between September 11-12 to another vessel, the Kamari I, according to Reuters data. That cargo was delivered to Vitol's storage terminal on the Malaysian island of Tanjung Bin, inside Tanjung Pelepas port, one trading source said... Vitol first asked a $30 premium to Singapore's benchmark 180-centistoke fuel oil price, said a Chinese industry executive who manages some of China's many small, independent refineries, known as teapots... 'Because the offer was too high, our people didn't really carry on the talks," the Chinese executive said. "Vitol also appeared not in a hurry to sell, so was not being aggressive.'... 'Vitol is offering the cargo as a special blend to teapot refiners in Shandong,' said a China-based trader. 'No one's agreed to buy the Vitol cargo. I declined because I wasn't sure of the quality and specifications.' At the time of publication it is not known whether Vitol had agreed a deal to sell the oil... Vitol's use of the Ticen Ocean to store Iranian oil could put the tanker's insurance at risk. The vessel is insured by the North of England P&I Association." (Reuters, "Vitol trades Iranian fuel oil, skirting sanctions," 9/26/2012)

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"The Vitol Group on Wednesday said it ceased all sales of refined product to Iran ahead of sanctions imposed on July 1 by the European Union. Vitol's comments came after a Reuters report said the world's largest oil trader is buying and selling Iranian crude oil. In a statement on its Web site, Vitol said a Bahraini subsidiary purchased a spot cargo of fuel oil from a non-Iranian counterparty in July and that the fuel delivered under the contract was of Iranian origin. 'Vitol Group companies no longer purchase any product of Iranian origin,' the company said." (MarketWatch, "Vitol says it ceased Iran oil trade ahead of ban," 9/26/12)

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"Switzerland has previously expressed displeasure about sanctions against Iran, largely becaues it has represented U.S. interests in Iran for over 30 years. And, while Switzerland no longer imports Iranian oil, estimates show that one third of the world’s oil deals are brokered by five Swiss-based commodity-trading firms – Glencore GLEN.LN +1.25%, Gunvor, Vitol, Trafigura and Mercuria." (The Wall Street Journal, "Treasury’s Cohen Heads to Switzerland, Turkey for Sanctions Talks," 8/31/2012)

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"Iran's fuel oil exports fell nearly 50 percent from May to June, according to industry sources, adding to declines earlier this year and to the strain on Tehran's finances as sanctions have hit its oil trade…Western sanctions do not specifically ban the purchase of Iran's fuel oil but instead target the financing and shipping insurance needed to buy and transport Iranian cargoes, creating difficulties for would-be customers that effectively have slashed trade with Iran.

No one is willing to insure any Iran-related oil cargo,' a Gulf-based trader said. 'Plus the trade has to be in any other currency than the dollar.'

More than half of Iran's June fuel oil exports were lifted by oil trader Vitol. Syrian refiner Sytrol received around 75,000 tonnes, while China's ZhenRong lifted around 83,000 tonnes, according to the data." (Reuters, "Iran fuel oil exports plummet in June-industry data," 7/12/12)

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"International trading house Vitol will resume Caspian oil swaps with Iran after a year-long suspension of operations, industry and trade sources said on Thursday. 'Vitol is resuming Iranian swaps. I think there there's really good money in it,' a Mediterranean trader told Reuters. Vitol has already signed a swap agreement with National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) but the swap operations, under which Vitol supplies Iran with Caspian oil in exchange for Iranian crude volumes for loading on the Persian Gulf, will most likely start up again toward the end of the year, another source close to the deal said."(Reuters, "Vitol to resume Caspian oil swaps with Iran," 6/23/2011)

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"Open sources reported that Vitol sold gasoline to Iran in 2009 and 2010, but subsequently stopped in 2010." (U.S. Government Accountability Office, Report: "Firms Reported in Open Sources to Have Sold Iran Refined Petroleum Products between January 1, 2009 and June," September 3, 2010)

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"Due to limited refining capabilities, Iran imports approximately 40% of its domestic gasoline consumption. Iran is the second-largest importer of gasoline in the world. That gasoline is supplied primarily by five companies: the Swiss-Dutch energy trading giants Vitol and Trafigura, the Indian multinational Reliance Industries, the Swiss trader Glencore and the French energy firm Total." (The Wall Street Journal, "Hitting Tehran Where It Hurts," 7/13/09)

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"Because of a lack of domestic refining capacity, oil-rich Iran is dependent on gasoline imports to meet about 40 percent of domestic consumption. Iran gets most of its gasoline imports from the Swiss firm Vitol, the Swiss/Dutch firm Trafigura, France's Total, the Swiss firm Glencore and British Petroleum, as well as the Indian firm Reliance." (Khaleej Times, "US house approves Iran energy sector sanctions," 12/16/09)

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"State Sen. Ted Deutch has a vision where Florida puts a stop to Iran's nuclear ambitions. His weapon: public opinion. His ammunition: a $125-million fuel depot being built in Port Canaveral by one of the worlds largest oil traders. Deutch has asked Gov. Charlie Crist to broker a meeting with executives from Vitol, the Swiss company that supplies one quarter of Irans fuel and is building the largest private investment in Port Canaverals history. Deutch hopes to leverage public opinion to persuade Vitol to stop selling gasoline to Iran. (St. Petersburg Times, "Business with Iran May Mean None in Florida," 12/07/08)

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"In recent months, Iran has, according to the respected trade publication International Oil Daily and other sources including the U.S. government, purchased nearly all of this gasoline from just five companies, four of them European: the Swiss firm Vitol; the Swiss/Dutch firm Trafigura; the French firm Total; British Petroleum; and one Indian company, Reliance Industries." (The Wall Street Journal, "How To Put The Squeeze On Iran," 11/13/08)

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"Swiss trading giant Vitol Group has continued dealing in Iranian oil products even after buying millions of barrels of crude oil from U.S. strategic reserves last year, but some U.S. lawmakers aim to prevent the company from having it both ways in the future. Vitol, the world's largest independent oil trader, received fuel from Iran earlier this month, an Iranian document obtained by Dow Jones Newswires shows. The Vitol shipment doesn't violate current U.S. or European Union sanctions on Iran, which are designed to eventually choke off activities with the Islamic Republic from banking to shipping oil. Yet a bill with some bipartisan support from key U.S. senators would bar companies which engage in trading activity with Iran from buying oil from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve, if it's passed into law... Vitol is a rare example of a large company in the western European oil industry that hasn't announced a voluntary end to trades with Iran, despite having strong U.S. ties. It has a large oil trading operation in the U.S. and has announced plans to build a crude oil terminal and loading facilities in Midland, Texas."  (Wall Street Journal.  "US Bill Could Create Clash Between Vitol's Iran And US Business," 3/23/12)

Response: 

"The Vitol Group confirmed today the following concerning trade in Iranian crude oil and oil products: 1. The Vitol Group ceased all sales of refined product to Iran and all purchases of crude oil from Iran in advance of all applicable international sanctions legislation. 2. A Bahraini subsidiary company purchased a spot cargo of fuel oil from a non Iranian counterparty in July 2012. The fuel oil delivered under contract was of Iranian origin. Vitol Group companies no longer purchase any product of Iranian origin. 3. Trade with Iran never constituted a material part of Vitol’s international business. 4. The Vitol Group is in compliance with all applicable international laws and regulations governing trade with Iran." (Vitol website, "Vitol statement concerning trade in Iranian crude oil and oil products," 9/26/12)