By Libby George
LONDON, Oct 31 (Reuters) – Global oil storage company VTTI launched a new terminal in Croatia on Monday to target oil product demand in the Adriatic in advance of what the company says is substantial further expansion in Europe.
The storage company announced its acquisition of a newly opened Adriatic Tank Terminal in Ploce, a deepwater port on the Croatian coast, with 50,000 cubic metres of petroleum products storage, along with partner Energia Naturalis Holding.
It plans to more than quadruple storage capacity with an additional 200,000 cubic metres and open liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) storage within two years through a projected 150 million euro ($164 million) investment.
“If you look at the Adriatic and the Baltic countries, it’s really lacking in clean petroleum products and LPG,” VTTI chief executive Rob Nijst told Reuters of the need for more import capacity.
Vitol, the world’s largest oil trading house, agreed last week to sell half its stake in VTTI to Houston-based Buckeye Partners for $1.15 billion. VTTI has more expansion plans to come, Nijst said.
“We are extremely ambitious and growing,” Nijst said.
Yuri Ouweneel, VTTI’s Adriatic commercial manager, said the Ploce terminal will take its first delivery, a shipment of ultra low sulphur diesel, by the end of November.
The terminal can currently accept ships of up to 30,000 deadweight tonnes, but Ouweneel said expansion plans would add the ability to accept fully laden long range product vessels and very large gas carriers.
The terminal will target Croatian and Slovenian consumers, government strategic storage and also trade within the Adriatic and Mediterranean, Ouweneel said, adding that the potential closure of refineries in the region strengthened the need for storage terminals.
VTTI has already submitted permits for a Ploce expansion that would add 60,000 cubic metres of LPG storage in what it said would be the first seaborne LPG import facilities in the region, as well as the added product storage.
It is targeting a construction start in the second quarter of 2017 and the ability to receive the first cargo in the expanded terminal by the fourth quarter of 2018.
Nijst added that the company is aiming to unveil “fairly substantial” expansion plans at European terminals in the coming weeks, and is also targeting Africa for further growth.
“You have seen capacity growth in various regions, and it’s always been absorbed,” Nijst said of the storage market. “We don’t see any issues in growing further.” ($1 = 0.9134 euros) (Reporting By Libby George; Editing by Keith Weir)
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