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Gunvor Returns To Metals As Oil Traders Expand Into Energy Transition Materials

After seven years on the sidelines, oil trader Gunvor Group Ltd is back into the metals trading business as more commodity trading houses are betting on metals amid the energy transition.

Gunvor has hired veteran metals trader Ivan Petev to head its new base metals business, anonymous sources with knowledge of the matter have told Bloomberg.

Petev has previously worked in the commodity trading business at VTB Capital in Switzerland, as well as at Castleton Commodities International and at JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Gunvor halted its metals trading business back in 2016 amid struggles in the sector, including a company exposure to a loss connected with the insolvency of Ushdev International Ltd. of Indian businessman Prateek Gupta.

Over the past year, the top independent oil trading houses have boosted their metals and agriculture trading businesses to capture volatility in the short term and expected supply shortages in the long term.

Over the past few months, Vitol Group, the world’s largest independent oil trader, has returned to trading in agriculture after six years, while Gunvor and Hartree Partners hired traders to trade agricultural derivatives and increased exposure to base metals, Bloomberg reported in February 2023, quoting sources with knowledge of the hires.

The market volatility and the change in energy trade flows of the past year have led to record-high profits at the top independent commodity traders.

Analysts and industry players expect demand for metals critical for the energy transition to spike in the coming years, while supply is playing catch-up, at least for now. Investment in new mining hasn’t taken off yet.

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This year’s investment in metals mining is set to rise by 3% year over year to $149 billion, with copper leading growth, but the level of investment will still be barely above the lows of the downcycle, Wood Mackenzie said earlier this year.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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