UPDATE 1-PetroChina loses a team of oil traders in U.S.

Fri May 3, 2013 4:43pm EDT

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NEW YORK/GENEVA May 3 (Reuters) - At least six energy traders and additional support staff have recently resigned from PetroChina's oil trading operation in Houston, a manager for the company said on Friday.

Those who resigned include two crude traders, two gasoline traders, a fuel oil and a distillates trader, said the manager for PetroChina USA in Houston, who asked not to be named. The company is a unit of PetroChina, China's top oil producer. The manager did not give the names of the traders who left.

The departing PetroChina traders are joining different firms, the manager added, without offering further details.

The resignations mean that PetroChina's Houston desk -- the main trading hub for the company in the Americas -- will be looking to restaff an operation that has expanded in recent years, and boosted the state-run Asian energy giant's trading activities outside of China.

Some traders remain on the firm's Houston trading floor, and normal business is expected to continue without interruption, the manager added.

PetroChina also will rely on staff in its other Americas region offices, including in Calgary, Caracas and Quito, to carry on trading as it hires new staff in Houston, the manager said.

PetroChina reported traded volumes of 250 million tonnes of oil and chemical products or $192.1 billion in 2011, according to its website.

One trader who resigned from Petrochina's Houston team told Reuters on Friday the recent departures have left Petrochina USA with a "very limited" remaining group of traders in Houston. Among the reasons for the traders' departure was dissatisfaction with bonus payments, said the trader, who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the subject.

The PetroChina manager declined comment on the reasons the traders departed or on any financial arrangements the company had reached with them.

The trader who resigned said PetroChina USA has been handling a "very large book," estimating its U.S. crude trading activity in Houston at 10-12 million tonnes per year. The trader said the Houston hub also deals in significant volumes of refined products, helps to manage trading of Canadian crude and handles South American crude tenders.

The PetroChina USA manager declined to comment on the firm's trading volumes in Houston, or to confirm or deny any volume estimates offered by the ex-trader. The manager said trading volumes for its operations in Houston are not made public.

State-controlled PetroChina has been rapidly expanding its energy trading outside of China, the world's No. 2 importer of crude, including in the United States and Europe. China has sought to diversify its range of crude sources.

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