“Gunvor has a term deal for next year,” said a source close to the deal.
“It looks like Gunvor is the only trader which has so far managed to get a term deal out of Surgut,” said a trader with a Western major.
In 2007, Surgut had term deals with Gunvor, Total and Europetroleum, while in 2006 Surgut launched the term deal business by bringing on board Statoil, Neste, Europetroleum and Total. It also continues to sell crude at spot tenders.
Gunvor has grown from a mid-sized trader to a major player in several years due to what it says are strong connections in the Russian oil industry as well as aggressive bidding strategy at tenders similar to the one by Surgut.
Founded 10 years ago, Gunvor handles about 30 percent of Russia"s seaborne oil exports, one of the firm"s founders Torbjorn Tornqvist said told Reuters in an interview in October.
Gunvor already has won major tenders to lift oil of Russian state champion Rosneft and No. 3 firm TNK-BP in 2008.
It also has the rights to regularly lift crude of the oil arm of gas export monopoly Gazprom, Gazprom Neft, which traders say all combined makes it a near monopolist on the Urals market on the Baltic Sea and a top player on the Mediterranean market.
“Look at Primorsk"s shipping schedule in the first 10 days of January. It is Gunvor everywhere. Ten cargoes, probably even more. Impressive and scary stuff,” one trader said.
“There are rumors that Gunvor will also market Kazakh crude, small producers and (mid-sized oil firm) Bashneft BANE out of Primorsk next year. I wish I worked for them,” said a trader with a major firm.
Traders said it was not clear whether any other firm apart from Gunvor would accept term deals from Surgut for next year as the company had asked for a bigger premium.
“When people talk about a premium of half a dollar (to a formula based on monthly Brent prices), it stops being funny,” one trader said.
“If Gunvor is indeed paying these prices I"m curious to see where their margins will come from,” he added.