Trader and shipowner Vitol has expanded its bunkering operations with a deal in the Maldives.

The commodities giant said it has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Indian Ocean island nation’s State Trading Organization (STO) to establish ship refuelling operations there.

Vitol Asian finance chief Jay Ng signed the agreement with STO chief executive Shimad Ibrahim.

Under the deal, Vitol will provide bunkers via a fuel tanker and market the Maldives as a refuelling stop for its marine customers globally.

STO will serve as the physical bunker supplier in the Maldives Economic Gateway.

The base will be set up at the Ihavandhippolhu atoll, the northernmost part of the archipelago.

The Maldives’ Sun website said minister of economic development & trade Mohamed Saeed and finance minister Ahmed Mazin attended the ceremony.

Shimad said the corporation is delighted to partner Vitol.

Both sides will now carry out a technical and financial feasibility study in collaboration with Maldives Ports Ltd and the coast guard.

“I am confident that this project would bring [a] lot of economic benefits for the country, including enhanced revenue and profit of STO [and] enhanced dividend that we pay to our shareholders, as well as tax revenue to the government,” Shimad told the Sun.

Big market share

Ng said the relationship between STO and Vitol goes back several years.

“The bunker business is a global business for Vitol, with significant supply hubs in Singapore, United Arab Emirates, Turkey, the US and many more,” he added.

Vitol has a 6% market share globally, roughly 13m tonnes, Ng said.

Earlier today, TradeWinds reported that US oil major Chevron had agreed to charter its first hybrid electric bunker tanker from Vitol for operation in Singapore.

The 8,270-dwt Marine Dynamo (built 2023) is one of two sister ships ordered in 2021 by Vitol at China’s Zhejiang Shenzhou Shipbuilding. The length of the charter and the financial terms were not disclosed.