Turning over a new leaf
Trafigura is a major global player in oil and natural gas trading. Weir took over as chief executive officer at the Geneva-headquarted commodities trader after founder Claude Dauphin retired in 2014. An Australian executive with experience in geology and banking, Weir’s leadership style contrasts with that of his high-flying predecessor. Weir says Trafigura is fighting against the opacity that has marked the commodity-trading sector. In May 2016, he told The Business Times: “To turn around and say we’re a private company and you don’t want to know much about us – we think that’s incorrect.” Trafigura joined the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative in November 2014 and now regularly reports on the payments it makes to governments. Like its Swiss commodity-trading peer Glencore, Trafigura is pursuing a strategy of vertical integration by buying up mining assets. In February, it bought a stake in the Terrafame nickel and zinc mine in Finland. Africa is a key market for Trafigura, typically accounting for about 25% of its revenue, according to company documents. Trafigura co-owns Puma Energy, which trades and distributes fuel, with Angola’s state-owned oil company Sonangol. After the 2006 Probo Koala scandal in Côte d’ivoire – where 500tn of toxic waste from a Trafigura vessel was dumped at the port of Abidjan – the company has focused on improving its global image with environmental and social responsibility projects. But the company still has room to improve, according to Swiss non-governmental organisation Public Eye, which published a report last year showing that Swiss petrol traders like Vitol and Trafigura are dumping poor quality fuel in African markets. H.B.