Vitol Is Said Among Bidders for Venezuela-Owned Citgo’s Parent

(Bloomberg) -- Vitol Group, the world’s biggest independent oil trader, is among suitors that submitted bids for the parent company of refiner Citgo Petroleum Corp., according to people familiar with the matter.

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A US federal court in Delaware is running an auction for PDV Holding to satisfy more than $20 billion in claims against Venezuela and its state-owned oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA, with bids due last week.

Vitol joins a list of bidders that includes Canadian miner Gold Reserve Inc. that are vying for Citgo’s parent. A hearing for the sale is scheduled for July 15, and the acquisition process is expected to be lengthy, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private information.

A Vitol spokesperson declined to comment.

For Vitol, a successful bid for Citgo would represent the latest in a series of investments in refining and distribution. The energy trading giant has been building out a global network that will give it investments in over 800,000 barrels of daily refining capacity across seven refineries and around 9,000 fuel stations from Australia to Turkey. In the past two years, it’s announced deals for investments in South Africa’s Engen Ltd., Massimo Moratti’s Saras SpA in Italy and BP Plc’s station network in Turkey.

The commodity trading industry has been experiencing the most profitable period in its history thanks to the wild price swings sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and Vitol and its rivals have sought to reinvest some of their bumper earnings into assets like refineries. The company earned about $28 billion in the past two years.

The sale of Citgo’s parent has been marred by controversy, with the Venezuelan opposition arguing that the loss of the asset could help President Nicolas Maduro’s effort to secure another term in the July presidential election. An ad hoc PDVSA board appointed by the internationally-recognized opposition has considered filing for bankruptcy to delay the sale.

Citgo operates refineries in Louisiana, Illinois and Texas, and operates or owns stakes in terminals, pipelines and lubricant plants.

--With assistance from Patricia Laya.

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