Gunvor set for buying spree after windfall: CEO

  • Market: Biofuels, Crude oil, Electricity, Emissions, Metals, Natural gas, Oil products
  • 12/04/24

Trading firm Gunvor plans to use part of a massive earnings windfall over the past two years to build out its asset base, its chief executive Torbjörn Törnqvist told Argus.

"Today, we are under-invested in assets so we will change that," Törnqvist said, adding that investments would be broad based and to some extent opportunistic. "We will employ quite a lot of capital in investments."

Independent commodity trading companies are sitting on unprecedented piles of cash after two years of bumper earnings arising from supply chain disruptions and market volatility. While Geneva-based Gunvor is smaller than its peers Vitol, Trafigura and Mercuria, it is still a huge company by most metrics. It reported revenues of $127bn in 2023 and a profit of $1.25bn, following a record $2.36bn in 2022. It has kept most of its earnings in house and had an equity position of almost $6.16bn by the end of 2023 — its highest ever.

Törnqvist is eyeing further growth.

"We will definitely be a much bigger company, that I can say," he replied when asked where he saw Gunvor in 10 years' time. "I think we will grow in tune with the [energy] transition."

Trading firms are looking for ways to keep their competitive advantage, particularly given the uncertainties associated with the energy transition. One emerging trend is an appetite for infrastructure. Vitol is in the process of buying a controlling stake in Italian refiner Saras, which operates the 300,000 b/d Sarroch refinery in Sardinia. Trafigura said this week that it is in talks to buy ExxonMobil's 133,000 b/d Fos refinery on the French Mediterranean coast.

Part of the rationale behind these moves is to increase optionality and take advantage of the loss of Russian products to the European market, as well the closure of large chunks of local refining capacity.

Gunvor owns the landlocked 100,000 b/d Ingolstadt refinery in Germany and a 75,000 b/d refinery in Rotterdam, where it plans to shift away from fossil fuel use.

"Many oil refineries have been up for sale and still are," Törnqvist said. Asked if Gunvor was looking for something similar, he said the company is interested in the "right opportunity" whether in upstream, downstream, midstream or shipping.

"It all feeds into what we are doing and all supports our underlying trading," he said.

But Törnqvist suspects a lot of Gunvor's growth will come from gas and power — areas where trading companies are already seeing rising profits. The company made its first investment in a power generation asset late in 2023, when it agreed to buy BP's 75pc stake in the 785MW Bahia de Bizkaia combined-cycle gas turbine plant in Bilbao, Spain. It has signed a slew of LNG offtake agreements in the past year and continues to grow its LNG tanker fleet.

"We're building logistical capabilities in LNG," Törnqvist said.

"Oil is here to stay"

Törnqvist said Gunvor is well placed to navigate the energy transition, and is stepping up investments in renewables and biofuels and expanding into carbon and metals trading.

"There will be disruptions, there will be different paths to the transition in different parts of the world which go at different paces and have different priorities and ways to deal with it," he said. "This will create opportunities."

But Törnqvist is clear that oil and gas will remain an integral part of Gunvor's business.

"We feel that oil is here to stay," he said. "And it will grow for several years."


Sharelinkedin-sharetwitter-sharefacebook-shareemail-share

Related news posts

Argus illuminates the markets by putting a lens on the areas that matter most to you. The market news and commentary we publish reveals vital insights that enable you to make stronger, well-informed decisions. Explore a selection of news stories related to this one.

News
20/05/24

Q&A:Shipping needs cultural shift to decarbonise: Total

Q&A:Shipping needs cultural shift to decarbonise: Total

Amsterdam, 20 May (Argus) — A cultural change in buying behaviour and supply patterns is necessary for the shipping sector to meet its decarbonisation targets and may be the biggest hurdle to overcome, strategy and projects director for TotalEnergies' marine fuels division Frederic Meyer told Argus. Edited highlights follow: What is the biggest challenge standing in the way of the maritime industry in meeting decarbonisation targets and the fuel transition ? A cultural change is required — for decades the maritime sector has relied on by-products with high energy density from the crude refining process such as fuel oil. The industry will now have to pivot its attention towards fuels developed for the purpose of consumption within the maritime industry. This will also require time as the sector looks to level up, and it remains to be seen whether there will be enough time to meet the International Maritime Organisation (IMO)'s net-zero by or around 2050 targets. But we have seen some good progress from cargo owners who are seeking scope 3 emissions related documents. How does TotalEnergies see marine biodiesel demand moving in the short term? In the short term, there is little incentive for the majority of buyers in the market. This is due to a lack of any regulatory mandates, as well as limited impact from existing regulations such as the IMO's carbon intensity indicator (CII) and the EU's Emissions Trading System (ETS). Despite providing a zero emission factor incentive for biofuels meeting the sustainability criteria under the EU's Renewable Energy Directive (RED), EU ETS is still on a staggered implementation basis beginning with only 40pc this year, rising to 70pc next year and 100pc in 2026. Further, EU ETS prices have been quite low, which also weighed on financial incentives for marine biodiesel. Therefore, many buyers are currently waiting for further incentives and signals from the regulators before purchasing marine biodiesel blends. Another point impacting demand is the current edition of ISO 8217, which does not provide much flexibility when it comes to marine biodiesel blend percentages and specifications. The new 2024 edition will likely provide greater flexibility for blending percentages, as well as a provision for biodiesel that does not meet EN14214 specifications. This will provide greater flexibility from a supply point of view. However, there remains stable demand from buyers who can pass on the extra costs to their customers. And how do you see this demand fluctuating in the medium to long term? If the other alternative marine fuels, such as ammonia and methanol, that are currently being discussed do not develop at the speed necessary to meet the decarbonisation targets, then marine biodiesel demand will likely be firm. Many in the market have voiced concerns regarding biofuel feedstock competition between marine and aviation, ahead of the implementation of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) mandates in Europe starting next year. With Argus assessments for SAF at much higher levels than marine biodiesel blends, do you think common feedstocks such as used cooking oil (UCO) will get pulled away from maritime and into aviation? With regards to competition among different industries for the same biofuel feedstock, suppliers may channel their feedstock towards aviation fuels due to the higher non-compliance penalties associated with SAF regulations as opposed to those in marine, which would incentivise greater demand for SAF. An area that can be explored for marine is the by-product when producing SAF, which can amount to up to 30pc of the fuel output. This could potentially feed into a marine biodiesel supply pool. So it's not necessarily the case that the two sectors will battle over the same feedstock if process synergies can be found. Regarding fuel specifications, market participants have told Argus that the lack of a marine-specific fuel standard for alternatives such as marine biodiesel is feeding into uncertainty for buyers who may not be as familiar with biofuels. What impact could this have on demand for marine biodiesel blends from your point of view? Currently, mainstream biodiesel specifications in marine biodiesel blends are derived from other markets such as the EN14214 specification from road diesel engines. But given the large flexibility of a marine engine, there is room to test and try different things. For "unconventional" biofuels that do not meet those road specifications, there needs to be a testing process accompanied by proof of results that showcase its safety for combustion within a marine engine. Some companies may not have the means or capacity to test their biodiesel before taking it into the market. But TotalEnergies always ensures that there are no engine-related issues from fuel combustion. Suppliers need to enact the necessary testing and take on the burden, as cutting out this process may create a negative perception for the product more generally. Traders should also take on some of the burden and test their fuels to ensure they are fully compatible with the engine. With many regulations being discussed, how do you see the risk of regulatory clashes impacting the industry? The simple solution would be an electronic register to trace the chain of custody. In the French markets, often times the proof of sustainability (PoS) papers are stored onto an electronic database once they are retired to the relevant authority. This database is then accessible and viewable by the buyer, and the supplier could also further deliver a "sustainability information letter" which mirrors the details found in the PoS. It is important for the maritime sector to adopt an electronically traceable system. What role could other types of fuels such as pyrolysis oil potentially play in the maritime sector's decarbonisation targets? We have teams in research and development at TotalEnergies which are studying the potential use of other molecules, including but not limited to pyrolysis oil, for usage in the maritime sector. It may become an alternative option to avoid industry clashes, as pyrolysis oil would not be an attractive option to the aviation sector. We are currently exploring tyre-based pyrolysis oil, but have only started doing so recently so it remains an untapped resource. We need to figure out the correct purification and distillation process to ensure compatibility with marine engines. For the time being we are specifically looking at tyre-based pyrolysis oil and not plastic-based, but we may look at the latter in a later stage. The fuel would also have to meet the RED criteria of a 65-70pc greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction compared with conventional fossil fuels, so we are still exploring whether this can be achieved. By Hussein Al-Khalisy Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

Find out more
News

India's JSW Steel to buy coking coal firm in Mozambique


20/05/24
News
20/05/24

India's JSW Steel to buy coking coal firm in Mozambique

Singapore, 20 May (Argus) — India's JSW Steel will buy a coking coal company in Mozambique to secure supply of the key steelmaking raw material and shield against any volatility in prices. JSW Steel's board of directors approved the acquisition of coal mining firm Minas de Revuboe (MDR) for about $74mn. The purchase of a 92pc stake in MDR gives JSW access to more than 800mn t of premium hard coking coal reserves in Mozambique, the steel producer said on 17 May. MDR's mine is not yet operational but the company aims to start developing the mine in the 2024-25 fiscal year. "This is not only going to provide us some cushioning with respect to the highly volatile [premium low-volatile (PLV)] index," said JSW Steel's chief executive officer Jayant Acharya. "It also is logistically closer to India, and therefore, will give us an optimised cost." Fluctuations in prices of high-quality seaborne coking coal have been a concern for Indian steelmakers, as they work to ramp up production in anticipation of rising demand from the infrastructure and automobile sectors. The Argus -assessed Australian PLV hard coking coal price crossed $600/t in March 2022, following the start of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. It was at $237/t on 17 May, a decline of $8/t from the start of this month, owing to ample supplies and thin buying interest. JSW Steel's fourth-quarter profit fell by 64pc to 12.99bn rupees ($156mn) because of higher coking coal costs. Crude steel production in the quarter rose by 3pc on the year to 6.79mn t, while sales totalled 6.73mn t, also registering a growth of 3pc from last year. The company also expects capital expenditure at 200bn rupees ($2.4bln) in the 2024-25 fiscal year, as it adds to its steelmaking capacity. JSW Steel is targeting a production capacity of 50mn t/yr by the 2030-31 fiscal year. The company expects steel demand to pick up in the coming year, citing the government's infrastructure push and robust economic growth in India. By Amruta Khandekar Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

News

India to launch policy to boost critical mineral supply


20/05/24
News
20/05/24

India to launch policy to boost critical mineral supply

Mumbai, 20 May (Argus) — India is working on a critical mineral policy to boost domestic supplies, and plans to collaborate with resource-rich countries in critical minerals mining and processing. The mines ministry and related government institutes like the Geological Survey of India (GSI) are working on a policy to drive domestic exploration and processing of critical minerals, a source close to the development told Argus . Discussions are currently progressing, the source added without providing details on the timeline. India is looking into all aspects to boost domestic production of critical minerals, the source said. India is also seeking critical mineral supplies from overseas to feed burgeoning demand from the green energy and electric vehicle (EV) industries. The Indian government is in talks with several countries including Chile, Australia, and some African countries, over opportunities for mining and technology collaboration for lithium processing and other critical minerals. Critical minerals like copper, lithium, nickel, cobalt and rare earths are important for the development of clean energy technologies, including wind turbines, solar panels, electric vehicles and battery storage. It is crucial for India, which currently relies heavily on imports of lithium-ion cells from China, Japan and South Korea, to develop a robust battery supply chain to meet its ambitious target of 30pc EV penetration by 2030. India is currently conducting feasibility tests on five projects of lithium and cobalt in Australia , said Ministry of Mines' secretary VL Kantha Rao at Khanij Bidesh India (Kabil)'s office opening ceremony on 11 May. Kabil, a joint venture between state-run Nalco and Hindustan Copper and Mineral Exploration, was formed to explore and produce strategically important minerals overseas. The firm in January signed an agreement with Argentinian state mining company Catamarca Minera y Energetica Sociedad del Estado (Caymen) to explore five lithium brine blocks in the Catamarca province of Argentina. India's mines ministry and Rao held several meetings over the past two months with the Chilean government and Chilean state-owned firms such as Empresa Nacional de Mineria and Codelco on critical minerals opportunities. India has also spoken with deputy minister of mining and heavy industry of Mongolia, Uyanga Bold, on co-operation in the critical mineral sector. By Samil Surendran Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

News

Japan’s FEPC calls for clearer nuclear policy stance


20/05/24
News
20/05/24

Japan’s FEPC calls for clearer nuclear policy stance

Osaka, 20 May (Argus) — Japan's Federation of Electric Power Companies (FEPC) has called for a clarification of the country's nuclear power policy, to ensure stable electricity supply and alignment with its net zero emissions goal. The call comes as the government reviews its basic energy policy , which was formulated in 2021 and calls for the reduction of dependence on nuclear reactors as much as possible. But Japan's guidelines for green transformation, which was agreed in February 2023, states that Japan should make the most of existing nuclear reactors. Tokyo should clearly state in its new energy policy that it is necessary to not only restart existing nuclear reactors, but also build new reactors, said FEPC chairman Kingo Hayashi on 17 May. Hayashi is also the president of utility Chubu Electric Power. Hayashi emphasised that to utilise reactors, it would be necessary to have discussions regarding financial support, policy measures that would help ensure cost recovery, address back-end issues in the nuclear fuel cycle and conduct a review of nuclear damage compensation law. Japan's current basic energy policy is targeted for the April 2030-March 2031 fiscal year, when the country's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is forecast to fall by 46pc from 2013-14 levels. To achieve this, the power mix in the policy set the nuclear ratio at 20-22pc, as well as 36-38pc from renewables, 41pc from thermal fuels and 1pc from hydrogen and ammonia. Japan typically reviews the country's basic energy policy every three years. Nuclear, as well as renewables, would be necessary to reduce Japan's GHG emissions, although thermal power units would still play a key role in addressing power shortages. But Japan has faced challenges in restarting the country's reactors following safety concerns after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, with only 12 reactors currently operational. Japan's nuclear generation in 2023 totalled 77TWh, which accounted for just 9pc of total power output. Tokyo has made efforts to promote the use of reactors, after the current basic energy policy was introduced in 2021. The trade and industry ministry (Meti) has updated its nuclear policy, by allowing nuclear power operators to continue using reactors beyond their maximum lifespan of 60 years by excluding a safety scrutiny period in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster. This could advance the discussion on Japan's nuclear stance, especially if the new basic energy policy includes more supportive regulations. The trade and industry ministry started discussions to review the energy policy on 15 May, aiming to revise it by the end of this fiscal year. It is still unclear what year it is targeting and what ratio will be set for each power source in the new policy. But the deliberation would form a key part of efforts to update the GHG emissions reduction goal, ahead of the submission of the country's new nationally determined contribution in 2025, with a timeframe for implementation until 2035. By Motoko Hasegawa Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

News

Iran's president dies in helicopter crash


20/05/24
News
20/05/24

Iran's president dies in helicopter crash

Dubai, 20 May (Argus) — Iran's president Ebrahim Raisi has died in a helicopter crash alongside his foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, state media reported early today. The two were confirmed dead more than 12 hours after news broke on 19 May afternoon that a helicopter carrying them had suffered "a hard landing" in Iran's East Azerbaijan province as he was returning from Azerbaijan, where he had inaugurated the Qiz Qalasi dam, alongside his Azeri counterpart Ilham Aliyev. "Ayatollah Seyed Ebrahim Raisi, the eighth president of the Islamic Republic of Iran, who had an air accident on Sunday evening as he was returning to [the Iranian city of] Tabriz from the inauguration ceremony of the Qiz Qalasi dam…reached martyrdom, along with his companions," Iran's state news agency Irna reported. The governor of Iran's East Azerbaijan province, Malek Rahmati, and Ayatollah Mohammad Ali al-Hashem, the representative to the province of Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei were also on board the helicopter. More than 50 search and rescue teams were dispatched, with support from allied countries, including Russia. Moscow said on 19 May it had sent 47 specialists, all-terrain vehicles and a BO-105 helicopter. Difficult weather conditions, nightfall, and the mountainous terrain had "complicated efforts" by the search and rescue teams to first locate the exact site of the crash, and then reach it, said Iran's interior minister Ahmad Vahidi. But officials on 20 May reported that the search had narrowed, with the head of Iran's Red Crescent Pir Hossein Kolivand confirming at around 06:00 local time (02:30 GMT) that the wreckage had been found. On arriving at the site, rescuers confirmed that there were "no signs of life." Images shared by state media showed only the helicopter's tail had remained intact, with the entirety of the helicopter's cabin significantly damaged and charred. The investigation into the cause of the crash is continuing, but all Iranian officials are pointing to the bad weather as the primary reason for the helicopter losing control. Iran's cabinet held an extraordinary meeting in the aftermath of announcement of the president's death. This was chaired by the country's first vice president Mohammad Mokhber, who will assume the president's powers and functions with the approval of the supreme leader, as per the constitution. A council, consisting of the speaker of the parliament, head of the judiciary and the first vice president, will now be obliged to arrange for a new president to be elected within a maximum of 50 days. This requires that an election now be held on or before 9 July. By Nader Itayim Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

Business intelligence reports

Get concise, trustworthy and unbiased analysis of the latest trends and developments in oil and energy markets. These reports are specially created for decision makers who don’t have time to track markets day-by-day, minute-by-minute.

Learn more