* Says expects sharper rise in demand for coal than oil
* Plans no further investment in Russian gas (Adds details, coal and gas expansion plans, quotes)
MOSCOW, Oct 10 (Reuters) - Influential oil trader Gunvor has cut its share of Russia’s seaborne oil exports to less than 20 percent, one of the firm’s founders told business daily Vedomosti on Monday.
Founded 14 years ago, Geneva-based Gunvor used to handle about 30 percent of Russia’s seaborne oil exports.
“I don’t think that the statistics are very important in this case, but our share amounts to less than 20 percent now,” Torbjorn Tornqvist said.
Gunvor’s operations had previously expanded dramatically, in line with a steep rise in Russian crude oil exports, which soared to over 5 million barrels per day (bpd) from just under 2.4 million bpd in 1999.
Higher oil prices this year have helped push Gunvor’s revenue to a forecast $80 billion in 2011 from $65 billion last year, when half came from sales of Russian-origin commodities, Tornqvist said.
“The share of Gunvor’s Russian assets (as a percentage of revenue) is higher than that of foreign (non-Russian) assets so far. Looking into the future, I can say we will continue to invest in Russia as well as in other regions ... achieving a 50/50 ratio,” he said.
The company plans no investments in Russian gas assets, he said. His business partner, Gunvor co-founder Gennady Timchenko, already holds a large stake in top independent gas producer Novatek through his Volga Resources vehicle.
Gunvor was betting that demand for coal would outpace demand for oil when it bought a controlling stake in a Siberian coal company, Kolmar, in partnership with Timchenko’s vehicles, he said.
“Gunvor’s interest in the (coal) sector is easily explained. We assume that in the next 20 years, demand for coal will grow faster than for oil, primarily in the Far East,” he said.
Gunvor picked Kolmar after a careful search of the local coal sector, he said, adding that Gunvor had no interest in other Russian coal assets, such as Raspadskaya or SDS-Ugol.
“We have no interest in Russian assets other” than Kolmar, he said.
Gunvor also has a $50 million portfolio of major blue chip stocks, with shares in Russian companies such as Rosneft , Gazprom and Surgutneftegaz making up between a third and half of that portfolio, he said. (Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin and Nastassia Astrasheuskaya, editing by Jane Baird)