(Adds CFO comments, capacity details)
AMSTERDAM Feb 28 Dutch oil and chemicals storage company Vopak said weaker demand for crude oil, gasoil and biofuel storage in its home market hit fourth-quarter results, and warned it would struggle to beat its record 2012 profit this year.
Group operating profit before depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) and excluding exceptional items fell 5 percent to 183 million euros ($250.4 million) in the fourth quarter, in line with analysts' forecasts.
Operating profit in the Netherlands fell 16 percent to 40.7 million euros as the occupancy rate on its storage facilities dropped to 83 percent, from 87 percent a year earlier.
Chief Financial Officer Jack de Kreij said a combination of increased competition due to capacity expansion in Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Antwerp, as well as limited economic growth in northwestern Europe and a lack of drivers for traders to take positions had meant lower demand for crude oil and gas oil.
In addition, changing regulations for biofuels in Europe had led to considerable uncertainty and hurt demand, he said.
Vopak said it expects to add 6.5 million cbm (cubic metres) of storage capacity in the years up to and including 2016, lifting its total worldwide capacity to about 37 million cbm.
Full-year EBITDA excluding exceptional items fell 2 percent to 753 million euros from a record 768.4 million euros in 2012 and in line with Vopak's previous guidance.
"We expect that the current business climate will remain largely unchanged in 2014, with continuing regional divergences," Chief Executive Eelco Hoekstra said in a statement.
"Therefore, exceeding the record EBITDA of 2012 will also remain a challenge in 2014." ($1 = 0.7309 euros) (Reporting by Sara Webb; Editing by Louise Ireland)