Oil trader Vitol 'extremely cautious' about market

CEO Taylor says this year will be a challenging one for the industry.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |  March 22, 2016 at 8:48 AM
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ROTTERDAM, Netherlands, March 22 (UPI) -- Given the trajectory in the crude oil market, oil trader Vitol said Tuesday it was taking an "extremely cautious" approaching moving forward.

"This current environment vindicates the extremely cautious approach we have long taken towards risk and debt," President and CEO Ian Taylor said in a statement. "We believe it is prudent to continuously review both business lines and asset exposures, and we will manage the business conservatively in these uncertain times."

Lower crude oil prices have hurt energy companies across the board. For Vitol, a full-year 2015 revenue of $168 billion represented a 38 percent decline from the previous year.

Taylor said revenues were off heavily despite an increase in oil trading activity. The number of maritime shipments for the company increased 9.5 percent and the volume of crude oil and related products increased 13 percent from 2014. The Dutch company said it usually is trading more than 6 million barrels per day of crude oil and products.

In the refining side of the business, Taylor said his company was managing the downturn adequately, but saw lingering risks in terms of a slowdown in global growth, largely on the back of a leveling Chinese economy.

Crude oil prices have recovered from below $30 per barrel in early 2016 to just over $40 per barrel. In a January interview with Bloomberg News, Taylor said he expected crude oil prices to stay around $50 per barrel for the next "five to ten years."

In his latest statement, he said the coming year will remain challenging for the oil sector.

"Demand growth will be in line with long term averages, but below the high levels seen in 2015," he said. "Stocks of crude and products continue to build and these will weigh upon the market."

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