Many trading firms already have an established presence in Europe, but the production of advanced biofuels that act as petroleum fuel substitutes has driven hiring in the United States in recent months, the sources said. Renewable fuels account for roughly 12% of U.S. energy consumption, according to government data, and are growing every year.
In April, hedge fund Citadel made its first entry in the U.S. renewable fuels trading space, a source close to the firm said. The firm brought in Jay McCall as head of North America Environmental Products Trading based in San Francisco, according to source familiar with the matter and his LinkedIn page. McCall previously was director of environmental commodities trading at DTE Energy Trading.
In the same month, commodities trader Gunvor hired Shane Foster to its renewable energy division based in New York, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Gunvor is already active in some U.S. renewables markets such as biodiesel and feedstocks and the company is actively seeking to expand across the renewables supply chain, three of the sources said.
Rival trader Trafigura is looking to hire traders specializing in renewable natural gas, renewable diesel and feedstocks, a source with direct knowledge of the matter said.
Last year, Trafigura hired Scott Adair in Calgary, Alberta, to trade power, renewable energy and environmental commodities.
Trafigura, Citadel and Gunvor declined to comment when contacted by Reuters.
Production of renewable fuels is rising as refiners look for ways to offset carbon emissions, and to take advantage of state and federal incentives such as California's Low Carbon Fuel Standard which makes such fuel production lucrative.
U.S. refiner Valero Energy Corp's renewable diesel segment reported a record operating income of $203 million in the first quarter of 2021, while its petroleum refining unit posted a loss.
Several U.S. petroleum refiners and other companies announced plans to produce more fuels from animal fats and soybean oils at their facilities, but the majority of those projects remain to be built.
Trading shops are also boosting efforts to reduce their carbon footprint.
DK Gunvor said in March that it aims to cut its Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions by 40% in absolute terms by 2025. Scope 1 covers direct emissions from owned or controlled sources, while Scope 2 covers indirect emissions from purchased electricity, steam, heating and cooling consumed by the reporting company. Gunvor has also set up a new subsidiary to invest in non-hydrocarbon projects.
Gunvor's new unit will invest in biofuel, renewable power projects such as solar and biomass, and the commercialization of alternative fuels like hydrogen and ammonia.
(Reporting by Laura Sanicola and Devika Krishna Kumar in New York; Editing by Matthew Lewis)
By Laura Sanicola and Devika Krishna Kumar