Oil Trader Gunvor Agrees to Buy Second Petroplus Refinery
May 31, 2012 [Platts] - Oil trading group Gunvor has agreed to acquire a second plant from insolvent refiner Petroplus, cementing the arrival of a new class of European plant owners from trading houses to Russian oil companies. Gunvor agreed to buy the 100,000 b/d Ingolstadt refinery in southern Germany and restart it as soon as possible, the Swiss-based trader said Thursday.
The deal for the Petroplus plant is the second for the oil trader after Gunvor bought the collapsed refiner's Belgium refinery in early March in a deal which marked its first foothold in the refining business.
Gunvor said it is committed to operating the refinery on a "long-term basis," adding that all existing refinery staff will be retained. Without disclosing financial details of the deal, Gunvor said the acquisition includes Ingolstadt's related German marketing activities.
The trader said the purchase of the refinery is in line with its stated strategy of becoming more vertically integrated and follows recent expansions into storage, oil terminals and coal mining.
"We are delighted to have signed a purchase agreement for what will be again a key asset for Gunvor as we look to confirm our presence in Europe and diversify our trading activity in Germany," Gunvor Group CEO Torbjorn Tornqvist said in a statement.
The Ingolstadt plant was shutdown in early February after Petroplus was forced to file for insolvency when its bankers froze more than $1 billion in key credit lines.
Gunvor said it plans to restart the plant "as soon as possible," adding that the transaction is expected to close in the third quarter of 2012, pending approval from German authorities.
The sale of Ingolstadt still leaves the future of Petroplus' French refinery, Petit Couronne, in limbo after the failure to find a buyer for the UK's Coryton plant last week looks set to see the closure of the Petroplus asset.
The latest deal expands the foothold of Europe's new breed of refiners which has seen the influence of traders and Russian oil firms in the sector grow sharply in recent years.
Gunvor is the biggest buyer of oil and products originating in Russia and holds operating stakes in Russia's Ust-Luga Baltic crude terminal and the country's Novorossiisk trans-shipment terminal in the Black Sea.
In addition to its core oil and products trading business, Gunvor holds interest in storage, pipelines and logistics operations and has expressed a desire to diversify into upstream and downstream projects.
The Cyprus-registered trader acquired 30% of the Lagansky oil and gas block in the Caspian Sea from Lundin Petroleum in 2009 and last year set up a joint venture to explore upstream opportunities in Africa.
Russia's Rosneft has held a 50% stake in Ruhl Oel, which owns stakes in four German refineries, since early 2010 and the oil major had also been linked to bids for Ingolstadt.
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Added to TankTerminals.com on: Thursday, May 31, 2012 by Platts.