Azeri state oil company Socar’s trading division is looking to expand in North America, having opened an office in Calgary in recent months and eyeing a second one in Houston, its chief executive told Reuters.
The company, which opened an office of some 15 staff in Calgary, is moving away from being just a state-owned marketing arm and is now trading local Canadian crude grades, natural gas and financial derivatives. It also holds some storage at Cushing, Oklahoma.
The move into Calgary, which includes hiring former PetroChina and BP Plc executive Gary Pon as its head of trading, gives the company a chance to grow market share in a bigger part of the opaque crude market while others scale back.
“It’s difficult to expand when everyone is growing. In a situation when there are more opportunities left (as others have scaled back) and with current market volatility … with higher risk, the trading companies that can manage risk are stepping in,” said Arzu Azimov, chief executive of Socar Trading.
“It was not the original intention, but people say we’re moving towards becoming a merchant trading house.”