* Plans to open Singapore office, eyes investments
* Lynx expects to sell more African oil to Asia
By Emma Farge
GENEVA, March 6 (Reuters) - Lynx Energy, a trading and investment firm set up by two former Mercuria talents, will open a Singapore branch in April as it looks to boost African oil sales to Asia, its co-founder said.
African oil exports to Asia are rising as refinery closures in Europe and growing shale production in the United States reduce demand among traditional clients, creating opportunities for canny middle men.
“All the crude we currently source goes to Asia and we need to be closer to our clients,” Lynx president Cyrille Costes, a former Mercuria board member and Total oil trader, told Reuters.
Costes said Lynx would look to hire four staff in Singapore initially under a team led by vice-president and co-founder Franck Blais, also formerly with Mercuria as well as Total’s trading division and BNP Paribas.
The company will also consider investing in the Asian upstream and downstream, Costes added, without giving details.
Privately-owned Lynx, launched in 2010 and headquartered in Geneva, surprised bigger rivals when it won the first contract to market oil directly from Chad’s state oil firm last year.
Since then, it has won a contract to market up to eight cargoes of Libyan oil in 2013. OPEC member Libya broke with its pre-revolution policy of selling only to refiners in 2012, a decision that has been accompanied by growing sales to Asia.
“We have signed a term contract with Libya and we expect to do more barrels in future. There’s not enough Libyan barrels going east currently,” said Costes.
Lynx also has a strong presence in the Republic of Congo following the acquisition of fuel distributor X-Oil in 2011. (Editing by James Jukwey)