UPDATE 1-Vitol beefs up assets with UK power plant buy

Fri May 10, 2013 7:30am EDT

LONDON May 10 (Reuters) - Vitol, the world's largest oil trader, has agreed to purchase one of Britain's largest and most modern power plants from Phillips 66 as it builds on a strategy to invest in physical assets.

The 1,220 megawatt Immingham combined heat and power plant, which started operating in 2004, supplies around 2 percent of Britain's electricity and provides steam to two refineries, Total's Lindsey and Phillips 66's Humber.

Vitol, like many of its peers, has stepped up efforts to acquire assets at different levels of the energy supply chain to boost profits.

The acquisition gives it access to a market in which power prices are expected to rise in coming years as old and polluting plants are forced to shut down, and new plants have been slow to come on line.

"Immingham is a high quality power plant with a highly skilled and experienced workforce," Ian Taylor, president and chief executive of Vitol, said.

The deal is expected to close in the second quarter.

Switzerland-based Vitol already trades electricity in the UK, French, German and Benelux markets.

The trading firm has expanded by acquiring a 40 percent stake in African fuel distribution business Vivo Energy and buying a Swiss refinery, together with AtlasInvest, from insolvent group Petroplus last year.

Together with Malaysian state-run shipper MISC, Vitol also owns Vitol Tank Terminals International (VTTI), a network of oil products terminals around the world.