April 20 (UPI) -- Dutch trader Vitol said Thursday it gained ground in the liquefied natural gas sector through a multi-year agreement with Russian energy company Gazprom.
Vitol said it signed an agreement to secure around 300,000 tons of liquefied natural gas per year from a trading arm of Gazprom starting next year.
Pablo Galante Escobar, the head of LNG markets for Vitol, said the agreement with Gazprom, the world's largest single producer of natural gas, is a testament of momentum.
"Vitol is an established participant in LNG markets globally and this development will strengthen our offering to customers world-wide," he said in a statement.
In its annual report this year, Royal Dutch Shell said China and India, among the fastest growing economies in the world, are leading the pack in terms of growth in LNG imports. Australia, where Shell has considerable holdings, is among the lead exporters of the super-cooled form of gas.
LNG relies less on pipelines than conventional gas and therefore offers more options to island nations in Asia. A review of the Asian markets by the U.S. Energy Information Administration found the regional demand for gas is on the decline, however, because of slower economic growth, cooler weather and, for Japan, the resurgence of nuclear power.
New demand for LNG may be emerging in sectors outside consumer energy, however. French energy company ENGIE moved early on the transition by signing an agreement in 2015 with the Japanese shipping company NYK to build vessels powered by LNG.
Vitol has as strong position in natural gas in its own right. The company is tied to natural gas developments offshore Ghana that are backed by the World Bank.