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Oil Trader Vitol Looks to Buy 90% of Italy’s Largest LNG Terminal

A company backed by the world’s biggest independent oil trader, Vitol, is nearing a deal to buy a 90%-plus stake in Adriatic LNG, Italy’s largest import terminal, from ExxonMobil and QatarEnergy, Reuters reported on Tuesday, citing sources familiar with the plans.    

Exxon currently holds 70.7% of Adriatic LNG, officially known as Terminale GNL Adriatico Srl, via its subsidiary ExxonMobil Italiana Gas. The other shareholders in Italy’s main LNG import terminal off the Adriatic coast in northern Italy are a unit of Qatar’s state giant QatarEnergy with a 22% stake and Italian gas grid operator Snam with 7.3%.  

Last year, ExxonMobil put up for sale its majority stake in the LNG import terminal as part of its plan to divest non-core assets.

At least four institutional investors and infrastructure funds, including the world’s largest asset manager, BlackRock, were being considered for the deal, Reuters reported in May. Back then, expectations were that the deal would value the entire Adriatic LNG terminal at around $868 million (800 million euros).

At the end of 2023, BlackRock pulled out of talks with Exxon to buy its stake in Adriatic LNG, but Vitol was still left in the race.

Now Vitol, via energy storage company VTTI – which the trading house co-owns together with IFM Investors and the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) – is reportedly close to buying the stakes of Exxon and QatarEnergy in the Adriatic LNG terminal, according to Reuters’ sources.

The third shareholder of Adriatic LNG, the gas grid operator Snam with 7.3%, will have 45 days to decide whether to exercise its right of first refusal to increase its stake in the LNG import terminal when a deal is signed, the sources added.

Snam has options to raise its stake in Adriatic LNG to 15% or 30% under agreements with the current shareholders, Snam’s chief executive Stefano Venier said in January.

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By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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