Vitol, the world’s largest independent oil trader, recorded a 25 per cent jump in profits last year, boosted by a robust trading performance and the sale of a pipeline and terminal in Texas.
The privately-owned company posted net income of $2bn in the year to December, up from just over $1.6bn in 2015, according to people familiar with the matter.
Stripping out $500m of gains from asset sales and $100m tax bill, underlying profits were $1.6bn, roughly the same as in 2015.
However, the underlying results profits are not strictly comparable due to a number of one-offs. Overall, Vitol’s trading performance was weaker in 2016 than 2015, the people said. They also said the results were unaudited and were subject to revision.
Vitol declined to comment.
The figures show how Vitol was able to adapt to more challenging market conditions and take advantage of rapidly rising prices for assets in the hottest region of the US shale industry.
In September, Vitol sold a crude terminal and a gathering system in the Permian Basin to Sunoco Logistics Partners for almost $800m.
Vitol carefully guards its financial results, releasing only a handful of numbers to the media. These typically include trading volumes and turnover.
Earlier this month, the company said it had shipped a record amount of crude oil, petrol and diesel last year, handling more than 7m barrels a day of fuel as demand in key markets such as the US surged.
The company said turnover was $152bn, down from $168bn a year earlier because of a lower average oil price over 2016.
Vitol’s chairman and chief executive Ian Taylor described the company’s performance as “solid” despite challenging market conditions.
In 2016 there were fewer opportunities for oil traders to make money by storing oil and selling it later for a higher price.