Oil market dealers confirmed on Friday that a Syrian government tender on behalf of state oil company Sytrol for gasoline that closed on the market this week has been picked up by giant oil traders Trafigura and Vitol. Syria exports crude oil, but does not have the refining capacity to meet its domestic needs and relies on petrol imports.
On the same day US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the first time called for an international boycott of Syrian oil and gas products, and sanctions against its oil and gas industries as the best way of putting pressure on the regime to stop its murderous repression of protests there which began on March 15th and have cost upwards of 1700 lives.
Vitol and Trafigura will most likely source the gasoline from Mediterranean refineries in Italy, Spain, or France.
In April this year Vitol was the first company to organise the sale of Libyan oil on behalf of its rebel movement, freighting about 1 million barrels lying idle in Singapore to US refiner Tesoro.
Trafigura, on the other hand, has regularly featured in allegations of corruption and malpractice since its creation in 1993 when a group of entrepreneurs split away from the group led by controversial US businessman Marc Rich . These include being the first company contracted to sell oil produced in Sudan in 1999, a year after the US bombed Khartoum and had declared the country a state sponsor of terrorism, barring all US companies from doing business with the regime.
Trafigura was also named in the Iraq Oil-for-Food Scandal , and was convicted in Amsterdam in 2010 for illegally dumping toxic waste in Ivory Coast and fined 1 million euros, 2006 Côte d’Ivoire toxic waste dump , which a September 2009 UN report says led to 108,000 people seeking hospital treatment.
In the same year Trafigura tried to prevent reporting of a question in the UK parliament of the Ivory Coast affair in “The Guardian” newspaper by using a “super-injunction” gagging order, and brought a libel suit against the BBC’s “Newsnight” programme for their reporting on the story.
In February this year the public prosecutor in the Netherlands opened an inquiry into allegations Trafigura paid bribes to a leading politician in Jamaica.
Trafigura is the world’s third-largest oil and metals trader after Vitol and Glencore. Although based in Amsterdam, the company has an opaque offshore network using many subsidiaries and shell companies in its international dealings. The fiscal address is in Amsterdam, the operational centre is in London, while the headquarters are in Lucerne, Switzerland. Trafigura’s main shareholders are Jersey, Dutch Antilles, and Maltese-based companies.
sources: Reuters, Les Echos, Greenpeace, english & french Wikipedia