Monday, September 10, 2007

Dutch firm inks deal with Vietnam oil company to supply crude

Trafigura, a Dutch infrastructure developer in the energy and base metals sector, signed an agreement Friday with a subsidiary of PetroVietnam to supply crude oil for 30 years.

The deal with the PetroVietnam Trading Company (Petechim), the state-owned PetroVietnam’s oil export and trading arm, also allows for joint investment in oil storage facilities, pipelines, and exploration.

Claude Dauphin, Trafigura’s chairman, said his company would also construct oil refineries in Vietnam.

Established 1993, Trafigura has developed a large infrastructure specialized in the energy and base metals market. Its equity is now in excess of US$1 billion.

The Dutch firm has 55 offices in 36 countries.

Experts forecast Vietnam, now a crude oil exporter, to turn into a net importer by 2015 when all its three planned refineries will be completed and demand for crude rises.

Vietnam's crude output may increase by almost 80 percent over the next few years, and demand for refined products such as gasoline and diesel can be expected to strongly rise as the country's economy expands.

The government is set to drive the country from being heavily dependant on petroleum product imports to a petroleum exporter.

Its first refinery is being built in Quang Ngai province at an estimated US$2.5 billion.

When commissioned in 2009, it will have an annual refining capacity of 6.5 million tons of crude oil, producing petrol, diesel, fuel oil, liquefied petroleum gas, and kerosene.

The second is planned in the central province of Thanh Hoa, with preparations already under way.

Earlier this year PetroVietnam had talked with Idemitsu Kosan about forming a joint venture to build the second oil refinery, which the Japanese firm said would cost $5.25 billion.

The two firms finished a feasibility study on the Nghi Son refinery last October which raised its capacity to 8.4 million tons from 7 million tons recommended by Mitsubishi Corp in a previous study.

The Nghi Son refinery would also be designed to produce 2.1 million tons of gasoline a year, 2.67 million tons of diesel, 790,000 tons of kerosene and jet fuel as well as 500,000 tons of liquefied petroleum gas, according to the Idemitsu’s study.

The government has given permission for the third refinery to be built either by foreign or local investors, with the prime choice of location being in Ba Ria-Vung Tau province, built either solely or jointly by foreign investors, or by local entrepreneurs.

Investors also have the option of setting it up in other locations – like Vung Ro in Phu Yen province or Doc Ham in Ninh Thuan province.

It is expected to have an annual refining capacity of seven million tons.

Despite being Southeast Asia's third largest crude oil producer with an average daily output of around 350,000 barrels, Vietnam still relies entirely on oil product imports as it lacks its own refineries.

Vietnam’s petroleum industry now sees numerous foreign oil firms planning to invest in oil refining on the back of the country’s burgeoning economy.