March 20, 2018 / 10:18 AM / 4 months ago

Trafigura moves hedging out of Europe, leads U.S. oil exports race

* Moves away from new tighter EU regulations

* Becomes largest exporter of U.S. crude

* Important to maintain scale -CEO

By Julia Payne and Dmitry Zhdannikov

LAUSANNE, Switzerland, March 20 (Reuters) - Trading giant Trafigura has moved its commodities hedging operations to the United States and Asia and away from Europe to avoid being subject to new, tighter MiFID II market regulations.

"We moved our hedging business away from Europe into the U.S. and Singapore and other locations," Chief Financial Officer Christophe Salmon told reporters.

Trafigura was one of the main critics of Europe's MiFID II regulations, saying they would drive business away from the continent by introducing unnecessary complications to operations.

MiFID II introduced position limits on contracts such as Brent oil or refined products but many traders have long argued that they hold large positions in paper markets to hedge risks in the physical market rather than for purely speculative purposes.

Trafigura trades around 5 million barrels per day (bpd) of oil and refined products, roughly on par with rival Glencore but behind the world's largest oil trading house, Vitol.

"You don't want to diversify for the sake of it. You have to be in the top 3 in any commodity you trade. It is extremely important to maintain scale," Chief Executive Jeremy Weir told the same briefing.

Weir said Trafigura has been actively aggregating volumes from U.S. independent producers for exports to capitalise on its infrastructure amid a boom in U.S. shale oil.

He said Trafigura has been the largest U.S. crude and condensate exporter over the past year.

Weir and Trafigura's co-head of market risk, Ben Luckock, both said the company was bullish on oil in the medium-term due to a shortage of new projects.

"Peak demand is a long, long way away in the future. Shale oil is not a panacea for global oil production," Weir said.

Luckock said: "(U.S. oil basin of) Permian cannot be the only solution to world oil supply while demand is growing by 1.7 million bpd. In the U.S. oil industry, it should be a marathon but people are running it at a sprint pace. They are doing an amazing job but growth is tiring in the Permian." (Reporting by Dmitry Zhdannikov; editing by Jason Neely)

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