Apr 29, 2021
(Bloomberg) –Vitol Group is said to be near a purchase of Hunt Oil Co.’s Permian Basin oil wells in what would mark the biggest independent crude trader’s first major acquisition of U.S. production assets, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
The deal could be announced in coming days, said the people, who asked not to be named because the talks are private. Hunt’s assets may command more than $1 billion, one of the people said.
Vitol set up a Houston-based venture called Vencer Energy LLC last year with a mandate to acquire oil and natural gas assets in the U.S. The country became a key export hub for the commodities trader after a ban on exporting crude was lifted in 2015 due to the relentless growth of shale production from the Permian and other basins.
A spokeswoman for closely held Hunt declined to comment. A Vitol spokesperson in London declined to comment.
Vitol’s focus in the U.S. is on “mature, producing” wells, the company said in July. Chief Executive Officer Russell Hardy confirmed the strategy in an interview this month.
“We remain of the view that those conventional assets have got a role to play,” he said, using the industry term for non-shale output. “The U.S. export market is an important market and it’s still a sensible area for us to invest in.”
Vitol, which handles about 7 million barrels of crude and fuels a day, has major upstream investments in Ghana, as well as smaller investments in Russia and former Soviet states including Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Ukraine. It’s also one of the biggest exporters of U.S. oil.
The Rotterdam-based company, which has major trading offices in Geneva, Houston and Singapore, has also been bulking up on renewable-energy assets including wind and solar arrays that account for about 20% of total assets.
“Equally, we’re putting a lot of effort into the renewables space and the transitional space,” Hardy said during the interview. Vitol doesn’t expect oil demand to peak until 2030 and has taken a bullish view on crude demand roaring back later this year and into 2022 as the pandemic recedes.