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Who is The Vitol Group

The American Petroleum Institute (API) efficiently lobbied for an end to the forty-12 months ban on exporting U.S.-produced crude oil partially by making a geopolitical argument: Iran and Russia have the ability to export their oil, so why not unleash America

What API by no means mentioned — nor the politicians parroting its speaking factors — is that a lot of its member firms maintain ongoing enterprise ties with both Russia and Iran.

And The Vitol Group, the primary company set to export U.S. crude after the lifting of the ban (in a tanker destined for Switzerland), has or had its personal ties to both U.S. geopolitical rivals.

Who is The Vitol Group
Briefly, The Vitol Group is essentially the most powerful oil and gas company you’ve got likely by no means heard of, and one the Telegraph (UK) said “pulls the levers of the worldwide economic system.”

“The Vitol Group is an vitality and commodities company,” says its web site. “Bodily trading, logistics and distribution are on the core of the business, however are complemented by refining, transport, terminals, exploration and manufacturing, energy era, mining and retail businesses.”

Vitol makes an appearance in CNBC reporter Kate Kelly’s guide, “The secret Membership that Runs the World: Contained in the Fraternity of Commodity Traders.”

As the Telegraph described, Vitol’s attain goes far past just oil and gasoline.
“Crude oil, diesel, aviation fuel, benzene, alumina, bitumen, ethanol, methanol, coal, iron ore, liquid pure gas, sugar, maize, wheat, rice, soybeans and rapeseed,” they wrote.

“Vitol frequently ships thousands of tonnes of almost every main commodity and raw materials across the planet…Merely put, Vitol is considered one of the biggest buying and selling companies on the planet.”

Vitol is the ninth largest company on the earth by revenue, sitting only behind the likes of BP, ExxonMobil, Walmart, Saudi Aramco, Shell and Sinopec. And it’s willing to do enterprise with just about anyone, including but not limited to Russia and Iran.

VItol in Geopolitical Hotspots

Where oil strikes, Vitol continuously tends to serve as the mover, often in geopolitical hotspots. One of those was Kurdistan, the place the Iraqi authorities claims it owns the oil and — au contraire — the Kurdish Regional Authorities claims possession.

Because the Telegraph defined, the Kurds might never have began exporting oil without Vitol.
“In 2012, the corporate helped the Kurds promote their first cargo of oil independently of the Iraqi authorities,” Telegraph wrote. “Vitol took supply of a 12,000-tonne shipment of condensate, a mild crude oil, price greater than $10m and has been at the center of the booming growth of Kurdistan’s oil business ever mangalore refinery petroleum limited edition since.”

Vitol also aided within the controversial overthrow, alongside the North Atlantic Treaty Group (NATO), of former Libyan dictator Muammar Gadaffi.

“Its savvy traders had managed to keep away from a barrage of NATO bombs and a naval blockade to send dozens of tankers to rebel-held ports,” The Telegraph reported. “Supplies of diesel, petrol and gasoline saved creaking power stations beneath rebel control from grinding to a halt and in the end proved important to efforts to overthrow Gadaffi.”

In return for that diesel, petrol and fuel, Vitol landed an exclusive gasoline-supply contract with Libya’s National Oil Company (NOC) to maneuver NOC’s gasoline to world markets.

Enter Iran and Russia
In the midst of the European Union (EU) and U.S. commerce embargo with Iran in 2012, Reuters revealed that the Switzerland-primarily based Vitol helped the nation transfer its oil to market, to the chagrin of some.

“Vitol final month purchased 2 million barrels of fuel oil, used for power era, from Iran and provided it to Chinese language traders,” Reuters exposed. “The tale of the cargo of Iranian gas oil involves tanker tracking methods being switched off, two ship-to-ship transfers, and blending of the oil with gas from another source to alter the cargo’s physical specification.”

Vitol confirmed its wheelings and dealings with Iran in a press release — since removed from its web site in the aftermath of the Reuters investigation.

And just months after Reuters published its piece, Russia’s state-owned oil company Rosneft introduced its entrance into a protracted-term oil provide contract with Vitol and later a liquefied natural gas (LNG) provide contract.

“We’re privileged to have another vital alternative of working with Rosneft, as it continues to build its position as a global chief in oil and gasoline,” said Ian Taylor, President and CEO of Vitol Group, in a press release announcing the LNG deal. “This landmark improvement will diversify and strengthen our mangalore refinery petroleum limited edition provides of LNG and allow us to broaden the possibilities of serving our shoppers in Asia-Pacific area.”

Ian Taylor (on left) with Rosneft President Igor Sechin (center), March 2013; Photograph Credit: Rosneft
Taylor responded to criticism of coping with unsavory governments this fashion in a 2013 interview with Fortune Journal:

As a result of we will trade in every single place around the globe, we’ll sometimes be trading in nations where people feel maybe we should not be. Now, okay, we do have our personal internal ethical type of values that we do occasionally apply to this. However on the whole, we feel it is the proper factor to do, which is to carry on taking part in most nations, offering there are no sanctions, during which case we immediately will abide by them, obviously. Or providing there’s not a scenario which we feel is bluntly not acceptable, in line with our values.

Andrea Schlaepfer, a spokeswoman for Vitol, responded on to DeSmog about the corporate’s relationship and business ties with Russia.

“Vitol is totally compliant with all related international sanctions,” she said, additionally stating that Vitol’s collaboration with Rosneft “predates any international sanctions in respect of Russia.”

“Unseen Hand”
Fortune describes Vitol as the “unseen hand that helps steer global energy markets.” What’s visible from lobbying disclosure kinds, although, is that the company paid an influential father-son group of lobbyists to reverse the oil exports ban beginning in 2014.

The father: J. Bennett Johnston, a former Democratic Party U.S. Senator, former member of Chevron’s Board of Directors and former head of the U.S. Senate Vitality and Pure Assets Committee from Louisiana from 1972-1997 who was provided and declined the U.S. Secretary of Power job in 2001 by George W. Bush. Bennett Johnston has a Chevron-owned oil vessel named after him.

J. Bennett Johnston; Picture Credit: Wikimedia Commons
The son: Hunter Johnston, who also lobbies on behalf of API.

In Could 2014 — at the identical time he was lobbying for Vitol, which has enterprise ties with Russia — Bennett Johnston wrote an opinion piece for the new Orleans Times-Picayune titled, “The United States can use its power prowess to self-discipline Russia.”

The fact that Bennett Johnston was concurrently lobbying for Vitol was not disclosed to Occasions-Picayune readers.

Schlaepfer, the Vitol spokeswoman, claimed that the corporate “did not spend money to lobby the federal authorities (or anyone else) to the ban on the export of US crude lifted.”

Cognitive Dissonance
As a former senior environmental policy advisor to the climate change-denying Heartland Institute, the Russia article is not the primary time Bennett Johnston has conveyed cognitive dissonance. Before advising Heartland, he expressed alarm about the threat of local weather change at the same 1988 congressional hearing in which NASA local weather scientist James Hansen made his first and now-well-known testimony concerning the risk of climate disruption.

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