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September 30, 2021

Gunvor reveals record trading volumes as oil and gas reach new highs

The commodities trader attributes its success to 120% surges in European natural gas prices and Asian LNG futures contracts.

By Sam Tabahriti

For the first time, commodities trading house Gunvor has publicly released detailed financial results, showing its performance in handling a record amount of raw materials in the first half of the year, amid strong demand for natural gas and crude oil.

Privately owned by billionaire Torbjorn Tornqvist, the group said that its trading volumes had risen 28% year on year to 118 million tonnes in the six months to June.

In its statement, the Geneva-based company highlighted the increase in demand for fuel as economies reopened after pandemic restrictions and “unusually cold winter conditions” in Asia and parts of the US for the pick-up volumes.

It continued: “Liquified natural gas (LNG) performed strongly, benefiting from volatility and market dislocations and the natural gas business’s positive performance continued during the period. Crude oil and core oil products reported healthy results as well.”

Since the end of the commodity trader’s half-year, natural gas prices in Europe have increased 120% while LNG futures contracts in Asia have risen by the same amount. Crude oil, which could benefit from industries switching away from gas, traded above $80 a barrel this week.

The release of Gunvor’s financial information comes amid oil prices climbing up to the highest level in three years and as the natural gas crisis is expected to spill over into other commodities, at the same time as the global economic recovery boosts demand.

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The oil price increase comes amid a wider rally in energy markets, particularly in gas. Under-investment in production has driven record prices in recent weeks, as well as high demand and competition for supply between Europe and China.

Several other industries have felt the gas crunch and the impact is expected to lead to a rise in oil-fired power generation in some countries if gas prices remain high.

Commodity traders typically rely on large credit lines from banks to finance their trading activities. While Gunvor made its half-year numbers available, the company is looking to diversify its sources of funding and extend the maturity of borrowings.

In the six months prior to June, Gunvor reported net income of $213.1m (£158.5m), down from $230.5m (£171.1m) a year earlier when the company reported record results as it profited from storing cheap crude oil and selling it to the futures market for higher prices.

The company said that natural gas and crude oil experienced the most significant growth in the first half of 2021, with trading volumes rising 27% and 77% respectively.

In its statement, Gunvor also explained that it was under investigation by the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission in relation to its activities in Ecuador. This follows a former employee turned agent who pleaded guilty in a New York court this year to helping funnel more than $22m (£16.3m) to Ecuadorean officials in exchange for lucrative contracts with state oil company Petroecuador.

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