Martin Quinlan, LONDON: Germany's
Oiltanking is to buy the Helios oil storage terminal on Jurong
island, Singapore, from Chemoil. The acquisition will increase
Oiltanking's petroleum capacity in the booming Singapore
storage business by 37%, although it will still be number-two
in the port to Vopak.
Oiltanking will pay $285 million for the Helios terminal,
which - having started-up in 2008 - is one of Singapore's newer
facilities. The terminal has a capacity of 503,000 cubic metres
(cm), and was purpose-designed for the storage and blending of
fuel oil. Its six-berth jetty can handle tankers of Suezmax
size, with two mooring at the same time.
Chemoil, a marine fuels supplier, is to continue to operate
its bunkering business from the Helios terminal by leasing
capacity in the facility - which is also used by other fuel oil
traders, including Itochu, Brightoil and Petrobras. When
opening the terminal Chemoil said its operations would benefit
from having control of the supply-chain, but it now says
structural changes in the marine fuels market will "favour an
asset-light business model that is more able to respond quickly
to volatility in volumes and margins".
The Helios terminal was built when Chemoil was headed Robert
Chandran, who founded the company in 1981. Chandran died in
2008 following a helicopter accident, after which the company -
controlled by members of his family - saw changes of course.
But in 2010 the family interests were sold to trading company
Glencore, which now holds 89%.
The purchase of Helios will lift Oiltanking's petroleum
capacity in Singapore to 1.87 million cm - the company's main
terminal on Jurong has a capacity of 1.37 million cm, and it
also has a chemicals terminal. Vopak has 2.52 million cm of
petroleum capacity in terminals at Banyan and Sebarok, and also
two chemicals terminals.
Demand for storage capacity in Singapore has been increasing
for many years, driven in part by China's growing imports, and
fees have strengthened accordingly (PE Winter/11,
p30). With no land available for new terminals, several bunker
suppliers are using moored tankers and storage capacity is also
being constructed nearby in Johor, Malaysia - but capacity in
Singapore's land-based facilities attracts a premium.