The world’s largest Independent oil trading firm, Vitol Group, paid a record $2.2 billion to its executives and staff through share buybacks last year, an unusually large payout, as the oil trader goes through a transition period in leadership.
This translates to over $6 million each to its about 350 top employees/partners, an amount that compares favourably with compensations at leading investment banks.
According to Bloomberg, the share buyback which is Vitol’s main way of rewarding its top employees who have stakes in the privately-owned company means the trading firm has paid over $14 billion to its partners in the past 15 years.
This figure shows how the wealth of the commodities trading industry has been distributed to just a few senior executives who have gone through the ups and downs of the energy markets over the past 2 decades.
The global energy sector which has been going through challenging times due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on oil demand and prices has seen income from oil trading activities play a major role in sustaining the industry.
Vitol, which is led by Russel Hardy as its Chief Executive Officer, has enjoyed strong profits in recent years, a trend that continued in 2019 when net income matched the $2.3 billion income record that was set in 2009. The company earlier this year said that it benefited from higher trading volumes and relative tightness in the oil market in 2019.
This created opportunity for bigger trading margins as other trading firms across the industry also reported strong profits in 2019.
Nairametrics had reported that top trader, Glencore Plc, was expecting an impressive trading profit for the year as it had reported an almost $1 billion earnings before interest and taxes in oil trading in the first half of 2020. This was similar to what was earned for the full year 2019.
Vitol ships 8 million barrels of crude oil and petroleum products every day, enough to meet the demand of Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the UK all put together.
The share buyback for last year, was unusually huge for Vitol, which usually paid its partners a smaller amount than the previous year’s net income, allowing the company to increase its equity base. But the $2.2 billion that was given to shareholders in 2019 far exceeded the $1.7 billion that it made in 2018.
The unusually higher payout came at the same time several of Vitol’s senior partners were making way for a new generation. Long-time CEO Ian Taylor moved to become chairman in 2018 and died earlier this year. Other top executives have also taken a step back from day-to-day operations, including Mike Loya, who ran America’s business from Houston and left the company earlier this year, and David Fransen, who was head of the Geneva office.
Vitol had revealed in the past that none of its top partners owned more than 5% shares as the company bought back enough shares from older partners to limit their stake, in other trading firms like Glencore Plc and Trafigura, the top executives have always controlled much larger stakes. It’s unclear if there is a connection between the change of guard at the top of Vitol and the unusual large buyback.
According to the director’s full-year results report, the company expects to achieve a reasonable result in 2020. However, its profit in the first quarter of 2020 fell sharply, with a 70% drop in net income to $180 million, as the company failed to fully anticipate the deep drop in fuel demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Shell to focus on Nigeria, Gulf of Mexico and others as it seeks to cut 40% of costs
Shell is seeking to cut 40% of operating costs in its upstream oil and gas.
Royal Dutch Shell announced that it would focus its operations on Nigeria, Gulf of Mexico, The North Sea and a few others as it looks to reduce oil and gas production costs by 40%.
This was announced by Reuters in an exclusive report Monday after speaking with sources. Shell sources also reveal it would direct the saved costs into more renewable energy investments. The new project would be called Project Reshape, and would be implemented in all three divisions of the company with the aim of saving $4 billion due to the effect of the pandemic on the industry.
Nairametrics reported in July that Shell warned in its second-quarter 2020 outlook that it could write down between $15 billion – $22 billion in post impairment charges for Q2, due to the heavy effect of the pandemic in their business. Shell had earlier this year, shocked investors by cutting dividend by 2 thirds for the first time since World War 2.
A source told Reuters that the new reshape of the company would not only shake up the structure but also the culture and “type of company we want to be”, as the company fancies investments into the power and renewable sector with historical low margins, and also competition from other oil companies seeking to go green.
Shell is seeking to cut 40% of operating costs in its upstream oil and gas to make the new vision possible and focus on just key assets in Nigeria, Gulf of Mexico and others.
In the Downstream sector, Shell also plans on cutting costs in its fuel stations business with about 45,000 in service. A spokeswoman from the company announced that a cost competitive total strategic view of the organization is in place, “which intends to ensure we are set up to thrive throughout the energy transition and be a simpler organization.”
CEO, Van Beurden said Shell would deliver $billion in its cost savings drive by Marche 2021, which includes suspended bonuses and job cuts. Shell also plans to reduce it refineries from 17 to 10 and announced plans of selling 3.
Petrol supply drops by over 23% due to decline in consumption
Consumption of petroleum products to decline to 27.2 billion litres in 2020.
The total volume of petrol supplied in Nigeria declined by 23.88% in July, when it fell from 1.34 billion litres in June 2020 to 1.02 billion litres.
This was disclosed by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), in its monthly performance data for July.
According to the report, the 1.02 billion litres translated to 32.95 million litres per day, down from 44.62 million litres per day in June, when 1.34 billion litres were supplied.
The performance data also stated that 0.95 billion litres (30.67 million litres/day) were supplied in May, and 0.94 billion litres (31.37 million litres/day) in April.
In March and February, the volume of petrol supplied stood at 1.73 billion (59.72 million litres/day), up from 1.20 billion litres in January (38.68 million litres/day)
It stated, “The corporation has continued to diligently monitor the daily stock of Premium Motor Spirit, to achieve smooth distribution of petroleum products and zero fuel queue across the nation.”
Agusto projects further decline
Experts in Agusto & Co, in a report, have noted that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on economic activities in the country resulted in a decline in the consumption of petroleum products.
The report said, “Agusto & Co. expects the consumption of petroleum products, particularly PMS and Aviation Turbine Kerosene, to decline to 27.2 billion litres in 2020, given the severely restricted travel and transportation activities during the second and third quarters of the year.
“This is expected to translate to a decline in revenue to N4.3tn in 2020.”
NNPC has, until recently, been the sole importer of petrol into the country for more than two years, after private oil marketers stopped importing the commodity, due to crude price fluctuations, among other issues.
The refineries, located in Port Harcourt, Kaduna and Warri, have a combined installed capacity of 445,000 barrels per day, but have continued to operate far below the installed capacity.
CBN introduces N250 billion stimulus package for gas investment to ease pain of fuel price increase
The CBN has introduced a stimulus package to help stimulate investment in gas as an alternative to fuel.
As part of the palliative following the sharp increase in the price in the pump price of petrol, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has introduced a N250 billion stimulus package under a National Gas Expansion Programme that it hopes will help stimulate investment in the gas value chain and spur its use in transportation as an alternative to fuel-powered cars.
Large scale projects under this intervention programme will be financed under the Power and Airlines Intervention Fund (PAIF), in line with existing guidelines regulating the PAIF, while small scale operators and retail distributors will be financed by the NIRSAL Microfinance Bank (NMFB) and/or any other Participating Financial Institution (PFI) under the Agribusiness/Small and Medium Enterprises Investment Scheme (AgSMEIS).
This initiative is to be implemented in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources.
The objectives of the facility include;
- Improved access to finance for private sector investments in the domestic gas value chain.
- Stimulate investments in the development of infrastructure to optimize the domestic gas resources for economic development.
- Fast track the adoption of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) as the fuel of choice for transportation and power generation, as well as Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) as the fuel of choice for domestic cooking, transportation, and captive power.
- Fast track the development of gas-based industries particularly petrochemical (fertilizer, methanol, etc) to support large industries such as agriculture, textile, and related industries.
- Provide leverage for additional private sector investments in the domestic gas market.
- Boost employment across the country.
The activities that are eligible under the intervention shall include;
- Establishment of gas processing plants and small scale petrochemical plants.
- Establishment of gas cylinder manufacturing plants.
- Establishment of L-CNG regasification modular systems
- Establishment of autogas conversion kits or components manufacturing plants.
- Establishment of CNG primary and secondary compression stations.
- Establishment and manufacturing of LPG retail skid tanks and refilling equipment.
- Development/enhancement of autogas transportation systems, conversion, and distribution infrastructure.
- Enhancement of domestic cylinder production and distribution by cylinder manufacturing plants and LPG wholesale outlets.
- Establishment/expansion of micro-distribution outlets and service centres for LPG sales, domestic cylinder injection, and exchange and
- Any other mid to downstream gas value chain related activity recommended by the Ministry of Petroleum Resources.
The aggregators, manufacturers, processors, wholesale distributors, and related activities shall be funded under the Power and Airline Intervention Fund (PAIF), while the Small and Medium-scale Enterprises (SMEs) and retail distributors shall be funded by NIRSAL Microfinance Bank under AgSMEIS.
For the manufacturers, processors, wholesale distributors, etc, the term loan shall be determined based on the activity and shall not exceed N10 billion per obligor. The working capital shall be a maximum of N500 million per obligor.
While for the small and medium enterprises, the term loan shall be based on the activity and shall not exceed N50 million per obligor. The working capital shall be a maximum of N5 million per obligor.
The interest rate under the intervention shall be at not more than 5% per annum (all-inclusive) up to February 28, 2021, thereafter, interest on the facility shall revert to 9% per annum (all-inclusive) with effect from March 1, 2021.
Loan Tenor and Moratorium
The manufacturers, processors, wholesale distributors, will have term loans which shall have a maximum tenor of 10 years (not exceeding December 31, 2030) with a maximum of a 2-year moratorium on principal repayment only. The working capital facility of 1 year with a maximum rollover of not more than twice, subject to prior approval.
The small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and retail distributors will have term loans that shall have a maximum tenor of 5 years (not exceeding December 31, 2030) with a maximum of 2 years on principal repayment only. The working capital facility of 1 year with a maximum rollover of not more than twice and subject to prior approval.
This new initiative involves getting many vehicles to run on gas by collaborating with investors to build the required infrastructure such as pipelines and petrol stations. It is also expected to help accelerate the use of natural gas and end gas flaring.