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Commodities Traders Earned Record Profits In 2023

Commodities traders earned record profits in 2023 as prices for items ranging from gold and oil to copper and corn remained elevated.

Commodities brokers have been enjoying windfall profits ever since Russia invaded Ukraine in early 2022, disrupting global markets ranging from energy to agriculture.

Vitol Group made $13 billion U.S. in net profits last year, while Mercuria Energy Group earned $2.7 billion U.S., according to media reports.

The global commodity trading industry is currently enjoying the most profitable period in its history.

The four largest energy traders – Vitol, Trafigura, Mercuria and Gunvor – have made a combined net profit of $50 billion U.S. in the last two years, according to data from Bloomberg Markets.

The profits are being shared among a small group of traders and executives, several of whom have become billionaires since 2022.

Vitol is owned by about 450 of its senior executives, Trafigura has 1,200 trader-shareholders, and more than half of Gunvor and Mercuria’s shares are owned by only three people.

Sanctions on Russian exports continue to reroute vast amounts of the world’s energy trade, creating opportunities.

At the same time, difficulties shipping through the Panama Canal and the Red Sea have led to price hikes that have made commodities more expensive.

Traders are starting to spend their winnings, with Vitol buying stakes in oil refineries and Trafigura buying a biofuels and fuel distribution business.

Traders aren’t the only ones benefitting from the commodities boom. Energy majors, miners and hedge funds are also racking up big gains from trading various products around the world.

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