Home / FLO / Vopak acquires shares of Gunvor Petroleum Antwerp from Gunvor Group

Vopak acquires shares of Gunvor Petroleum Antwerp from Gunvor Group

Vopak acquires shares of Gunvor Petroleum Antwerp from Gunvor Group
Photo courtesy of Vopak

Dutch tank storage company Vopak is acquiring the shares of Gunvor Petroleum Antwerp (GPA) from commodity trader Gunvor Group Ltd, giving it access to the Gunvor concession in the Antwerp port area, located about 40 kilometres north of Brussels, Belgium. 

“We’re very pleased to have access to this prime location in Europe’s leading petrochemical cluster. It offers us a unique opportunity to implement our strategy, forge new partnerships and support the industry in its decarbonisation by developing critical infrastructure. The site’s extensive size, strategic location and connectivity to Northwest Europe offer unparalleled opportunities,” said Patrick van der Voort, president, Europe & Africa, Royal Vopak. 

The Gunvor Group, which was founded in 2000, is one of the world’s largest independent commodities trading houses, and the fourth largest crude oil trader in the world after Glencore, Vitol, and Trafigura. The company was co-founded and controlled by Gennady Timchenko together with Torbjörn Törnqvist. However, due to United States sanctions, Timchenko sold his stake in the company to Törnqvist in March 2014.

The Gunvor Petroleum Antwerp refinery, which has been 100% owned by Gunvor since 2012, has been mothballed since late 2020, as a result of adverse macroeconomic effects on the European refining sector. Terminal activities at the site continue.

“Since rescuing GPA from insolvency in 2012, Gunvor has been committed to operating the refinery and terminal as a responsible tenant and employer in the Port of Antwerp. Over many years of operations, Gunvor invested considerably in the asset, and even through the mothballing process and subsequent cessation of all activities sought to ensure that all stakeholders and employees were treated fairly, and that the environment remained respected. By reaching an agreement with Vopak for the acquisition of the shares of GPA, Gunvor is ensuring the site will have a new future under responsible leadership,” said Shahb Richyal, global head of Portfolio, Gunvor. 

Vopak to create new green energy hub at site

Vopak stated its commitment to sustainably redeveloping the site. For example, together with the Port of Antwerp-Bruges, the company will focus on the joint development and implementation to support renewable energy, another important step towards a climate-neutral economy, the company said.

The site is some 105 hectares in size and offers deep-sea, river, road and rail access, as well as pipeline connections to Northwest Europe. The adjacent and future pipelines are suitable for transporting i.a. propylene, ethylene, CO2 and hydrogen. 

Vopak will reconfigure the concession with the primary aim of making a positive contribution to the decarbonisation of the industrial cluster on the Antwerp port platform. Where necessary, soil remediation will take place in close consultation with internal and external experts and authorities. Furthermore, the Port of Antwerp-Bruges and Vopak will continue their discussions to structure their common strategic ambition, which is to jointly develop a new green energy hub.

“As Port of Antwerp-Bruges, we’re very pleased that Vopak has found expansion opportunities on the Gunvor site. This Dutch global player has been an established value on the Antwerp port platform for many years and will continue to focus on green ammonia, sustainable fuels and finer chemical products at the new site. Not only does this allow Vopak to continue to grow within our port in line with the strategy of the Port of Antwerp-Bruges, but we’re also demonstrating how, as a port, we’re shaping the energy transition together with businesses,” said Jacques Vandermeiren, CEO, Port of Antwerp-Bruges.