Azerbaijan's Socar Trading expects hit from Moroccan refinery's bad debts

Azerbaijan's Socar Trading expects hit from Moroccan refinery's bad debts

The trading arm of Azerbaijan's state oil firm, Socar, expects to lose around $9 million because of bad debts with Morocco's troubled refiner Samir, it stated along with record 2015 results published this week in Malta. The refiner that runs Morocco's only refinery at Mohammedia has been ordered into liquidation after racking up millions in debt to creditors and some 13 billion dirhams ($1.3 billion) in unpaid taxes to the government.

Socar Trading Holding Ltd, headquartered in Geneva, estimated a net $9 million loss with Samir after taking into account partial debt recovery through insurance. Samir, in which Saudi billionaire Mohammed al-Amoudi's Corral Holdings has a 67.3 percent stake, was granted in June another six months to attract a buyer.

Socar Trading said it made a record net profit for the year of $91.4 million, up from $27.1 million in 2014 on the back of profitable third party business, the gradual ramp up of storage operations at the Russian oil terminal Ust-Luga and the dismissal of non-performing traders. 

Revenues were down in 2015 at $22.65 billion versus $39.02 billion in 2014.

The gross volume of commodities traded fell year-on-year to 47.7 million tonnes from 48.6 million tonnes. Just under half the volume was system barrels, 10.2 million tonnes was third party crude oil and 15 million tonnes were refined products.

Socar expanded its presence in Africa in 2015 by buying a 20 percent stake in Benin's Octogone Stockage de Produits Petroliers that deals with crude storage.

Socar Trading is also set to expand in Angola after setting up a new company, STL Oil and Gas SA, in which it holds a 49 percent stake. It already has a presence on the trading side in Nigeria and Egypt.

According to the Switzerland's company registry, STL's purpose is to hold and manage investments in the upstream oil and gas industry in Angola.

Earlier this year, Socar Trading's chief executive told Reuters that it was also looking to renew deals with Iran.