MOSCOW, May 15 (Reuters) - Gunvor, the world’s third largest oil trader, will see sales jump to over $70 billion this year as it consolidates an already strong position in Russia, the firm’s chairman said in an interivew published on Thursday.
Torbjorn Tornqvist, whose company’s revenues surged from just $5 billion in 2004 to $43 billion in 2007, said all Russian oil companies, except LUKOIL (LKOH.MM), have signed contracts with the trader.
“I think we’ve been a bit visionary,” Tornqvist said in the interview with the Financial Times. “In 2003, we decided to go for it. We saw the market was opening up.”
Tornqvist, whose company trades about 30 percent of Russia’s seaborne oil exports, said his firm plans to sell 90 million tonnes of crude in 2008, or more than a fifth of the world’s second largest oil producer.
In 2007, Gunvor expected to trade 83 million tonnes of crude, up from 60 million tonnes in the previous year, Tornqvist told Reuters in an interview last year [ID:nL31804435].
Gunvor’s top three Russian clients include the country’s largest oil producer, state-controlled Rosneft (ROSN.MM), Gazprom Neft (SIBN.MM), the oil arm of gas giant Gazprom (GAZP.MM), and BP’s (BP.L) Russian venture, TNK-BP, which regularly awards deals to Gunvor at tenders.
On Wednesday, Russia’s prime minister Vladimir Putin gave a boost to two projects involving Gunvor.
He said that a planned expansion of the Baltic Pipeline System, a key export route to Europe, would head through the Kirishi refinery, which is said to have ties to Gunvor’s co-founder, Gennady Timchenko.
The pipeline will terminate at the new Ust-Luga terminal, which the FT said is being built with Gunvor’s help.
Some analysts have speculated that the firm’s rapid expansion over the past five years was thanks to the close ties Timchenko had with Putin, Russia’s president from 2000 until last week.
Tornqvist once more dismissed the speculation as “baseless and nonsense”, but confirmed the company had a third shareholder whose name he did not reveal.
“This is a private businessman who has nothing to do with politics. He is not very well known at all,” he said. (Reporting by Tanya Mosolova; Editing by Louise Ireland)