* Trading houses expanding into new commodities markets
* Agriculture, oil markets more connected due to biofuels
* Grains margins seen as much higher than oil returns
By Emma Farge and Sarah McFarlane
LONDON, Feb 20(Reuters) – Top oil trader Vitol is building a
global grains desk and has taken advantage of Glencore’s
takeover of Canadian grains giant Viterra to hire a
team of its traders, trading sources said on Wednesday.
Vitol, which has an annual turnover of nearly $300 billion,
will vie for market share along with rival trading firms Gunvor
and Mercuria, which have also expanded in agricultural commodity
markets as they seek to expand across new markets.
LONDON, Feb 19 (Reuters) – Brent crude held near $117 per
barrel on Tuesday after falling in the last three sessions as
traders eyed lacklustre European growth and waited for U.S. data
to provide demand clues for the world’s largest oil user.
Forecasts for a slowdown in France’s GDP growth in 2013 and
elections in Italy have added to uncertainty on the euro zone
outlook, curbing investors’ appetite for riskier assets like
GENEVA, Feb 13 (Reuters) – Top oil trading house Vitol plans
to offer C$192 million ($192 million) for Canada-listed oil and
gas group Sterling Resources, to gain a foothold in the
North Sea oil and gas sector.
The planned deal, worth C$0.85 per Sterling share – a 79
percent premium to Tuesday’s close at C$0.475, is the latest in
a series of moves by Swiss firm Vitol to acquire physical energy
GENEVA, Feb 12 (Reuters) – Swiss National Bank chief Thomas
Jordan rejected the idea that he was fuelling a currency war by
keeping a lid on the strong franc, saying on Tuesday he welcomed
the franc’s recent weakening and expected it to continue.
The safe-haven franc, on which the SNB imposed a 1.20 per
euro limit in September 2011 to prevent Switzerland sliding into
deflation and recession, has fallen more than 2 percent this
year as sentiment on the euro zone has improved.
GENEVA, Feb 12 (Reuters) – Switzerland has stepped up a
criminal investigation into an oil contract in the Republic of
Congo and will question a former Gunvor employee and his
associate on suspicions of fraud, the company confirmed.
The attorney general originally opened the money laundering
investigation in late 2011 but did not have sufficient evidence
until last month to identify the individuals and proceed with
GENEVA, Feb 11 (Reuters) – Commodity trading houses pouring
millions of dollars into buying physical assets risk shifting
capital away from their core business and driving out top
talent, according to a study by advisory firm Deloitte
Following the model of Swiss commodities giant Glencore
, many independent trading houses have sought to snap up
assets such as oil refineries and aluminium smelters.
GENEVA, Feb 5 (Reuters) – Addax & Oryx Group (AOG) plans to
invest $400 million in Africa’s energy sector over the next five
years, its Chief Executive said, in a strategic U-turn after
sales talks collapsed last year.
AOG’s focus on the African downstream will pit the
privately-owned Swiss firm against rivals Vitol and Trafigura
which are also vying for assets in sub-Saharan Africa as trading
GENEVA/KHARTOUM, Feb 4 (Reuters) – Sudan has sold a cargo of
oil of disputed ownership from South Sudan oilfields, a minister
and trading sources said, in what is likely to be seen by the
south as a provocation after security and oil transport talks
between the two countries fell apart.
Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and South Sudan’s
Salva Kiir failed at talks in Ethiopia last month to end a
stalemate over withdrawing armies from a border region – a
pre-requisite for resuming oil exports.
GENEVA, Feb 4 (Reuters) – Swiss-based Vitol has signed a
long-term contract with Gabon to export oil, trade sources said,
making it the only trading house to win an allocation from the
west African government.
Vitol – the world’s top oil trader with annual revenues of
nearly $300 billion – already has a strong presence in the
region and markets oil from Nigeria and Ghana.
GENEVA/DUBAI (Reuters) – Iran’s crude oil exports in December leapt to their highest level since European Union sanctions took effect last July, analysts and shipping sources said, as strong Chinese demand and tanker fleet expansion helped the OPEC member dodge sanctions.
Exports rose to around 1.4 million barrels per day (bpd) in December, according to two industry sources and shipping and customs data compiled by Reuters on a country-by-country basis and corroborated by other sources and consultants.