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Oil Trading Giant Looks To Enter The Permian Through Major Asset Sale

Commodity trading major Vitol is reportedly negotiating a deal to acquire the oil wells of Hunt Oil Co. in the Permian Basin.

According to Bloomberg, which cited unnamed sources, this would be the biggest foray of an independent oil trader into the upstream.

The report notes that the Swiss-based commodity trader last year set up a limited liability company called Vencer Energy in Texas. The purpose of the company was to buy oil and gas production assets as the United States returned to the oil-exporting world in 2015.

Few details about the deal with Hunt Oil Co. have been made public, all by Bloomberg’s unnamed sources. One detail is that the deal could be announced in the net few days, and the other is that the oil wells could fetch more than $1 billion.

The deal is interesting in that it involves shale oil wells: Hunt Oil’s specialty. Vitol, on the other hand, has so far only been interested in conventional oil, Bloomberg notes in its report, citing chief executive Russell Hardy as saying the commodity trader focused on “mature, producing” wells.

“We remain of the view that those conventional assets have got a role to play,” Hardy told Bloomberg earlier this month. “The U.S. export market is an important market and it’s still a sensible area for us to invest in.”

Vitol reported average trading rates of 7.1 million bpd for 2020, versus some 8 million bpd a year earlier. It also reported a drop in revenues, to $140 billion from $225 billion for 2019. Yet Vitol remained in the black, reportedly making some $3 billion in net profit thanks to the wild price swings in crude oil during the first three months of the pandemic.

The commodity trader appears to be optimistic about oil demand, too. CEO Hardy said earlier this year that demand for jet fuel may remain subdued for a while longer, but generally, he said, oil demand was on the rebound across all industries where oil is used.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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