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Vitol, the world’s biggest independent oil trader, has moved to expand its refining business with the purchase of a condensate splitter in the Netherlands from Koch Supply and Trading.

The 85,000 barrel a day splitter, a simple type of oil refinery, is the largest producer in North West Europe of naphtha, a key feedstock for the petrochemical industry.

The plant was put up for sale in October after Koch concluded it would be worth more to worth more to “parties with existing condensate streams”.

Condensate is a type of ultralight oil. Supplies have been growing in the US as part of the shale boom where Vitol has become a major exporter.

“The splitter is a well-run asset in a good strategic location at the heart of Rotterdam’s oil and petrochemical industry,” said Russell Hardy head of Vitol’s operations in Europe, Middle East and Africa. “Its acquisition will enhance our offering to our customers across the region.”

Vitol did not reveal how much it is paying for the splitter, located in the Port of Rotterdam. The privately-owned company is looking to grow its physical footprint as the recovery in oil prices reduces trading opportunities following a bumper two years.

Earlier in 2017 Vitol paid €1.4bn for a Turkish company that owns more than 1,700 filling stations.

Speaking at conference in Dubai over the weekend, Chris Bake, one of Vitol’s senior executives, said the company was considering expanding further into refining, storage sites and fuel-retailing chains.

“We look at integrating into the downstream a little further, integrating into refining a bit,” he was quoted as saying by Bloomberg.

Vitol has interest in three European refineries in Europe, two of them through Varo, a joint venture with Reggeborgh, a Dutch investment company and, Carlyle International Energy Partners, the private equity group.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2018. All rights reserved.

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