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Frequently Asked Questions

Vopak general introduction

Could you explain the history of Vopak?

Vopak’s history goes back to 1616. In its earliest form, our company offered storage and related services to trading companies such as the Dutch East Indies Company. The goods that these traders were taking to the Netherlands (mainly coffee, tea and spices) had to be weighed, sorted, stored and redistributed within the Netherlands and beyond. Vopak’s predecessors catered for these needs, facilitating the rapid growth of the Dutch economy.

Around 1860, when the Dutch East Indies Company was long gone, the first oil was being drilled in the United States and it was not long before petroleum products were imported to Europe. We built the first-ever dedicated oil storage tank in Europe, in the Port of Rotterdam. Our first bulk liquid storage facility has now grown to become a global network.

In 1999, Vopak was formed by the merger of two international logistic service providers, Pakhoed and Van Ommeren. Today, we are the world’s largest independent tank terminal operator. With almost 400 years of experience in storage and transshipment, Vopak is almost genetically dedicated to service.

Read more about our history 

What are the main business characteristics of Vopak?

Vopak’s terminals play a key role in bringing its customers' products from the production plant or feedstock production sites via tank terminals to end-user locations respectively production plants as they transit through ports. Our independent tank terminal network is responsible for storage and transshipment. Vopak works closely together with other service providers engaged by its customers, such as shipping companies.

At the heart of the Vopak business model is the economic principle to provide common infrastructure to many different customers and to benefit from economies of scale. We focus on our strongest activity – tank terminal services – thus permitting our customers to focus on their own core activities. Our customers also benefit from the flexibility that purchasing independent storage as needed provides, i.e., the ability to use customized contract durations.

Vopak operates three types of terminals:

  • Hub terminal: This type of terminal engages in import, distribution and export of liquid bulk products at a global meeting point for trade and provides access to the market. The hub terminal provides a vital link for incoming and outgoing global product flows. Our main hub locations are Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Antwerp (ARA) in Northwest Europe, Houston (US), Fujairah (United Arab Emirates) and Singapore.
  • Import/export terminal: This type of terminal stores products that are either imported or exported for end-users in a specific region. This type of terminal acts as a point of origin for inland distribution by inland shipping, pipeline, tank truck or rail (including regasification in the case of LNG). Alternatively, it acts as a collection point for small parcels, originating from an inland production facility, to create a large parcel for overseas export.
  • Industrial terminal: This type of terminal provides a logistical center integrated via pipelines to the petrochemical facilities within an industrial complex. Within the complex, it supports product flows and the supply and export of feedstock and finished products.

Vopak does not own the products it stores. Its revenues are fee driven and depend on the following elements:

  • A fixed rental fee for the tank space (capacity) a customer requires. This fee is generally paid on a monthly basis in advance. In most cases a customer will pay for one whole tank and will use it to store one product. This fee includes the marine handling cost of product going in and out of the tank (throughput) up to an agreed maximum volume per agreed period. This represents approximately 80% of Vopak’s revenues.
  • Fees for additional (handling) services which are paid in arrears, such as for blending, adding nitrogen, heating, and the loading and unloading of ships, railcars and trucks. This represents approximately 10% of Vopak’s revenues.
  • (Excess) throughput fees represent approximately 10% of Vopak’s revenues. Excess throughput fees occur when a customer exceeds the product volume above the maximum agreed in the contract.

Vopak rents out capacity on the basis of long-term and short-term contracts. Long-term contracts provide a stable revenue source, leading to relatively consistent margins for contracted storage whereas short-term contracts are more volatile but typically provide higher margins for contracted storage.

More information regarding Vopak’s business characteristics can be found in Vopak’s annual report 2013

What are the products and services that Vopak offer?

At the terminals operated by Vopak, a wide variety of liquid bulk products are stored. Those products are classified in four groups: oil products, chemicals and LPG, biofuels and vegetable oils, and LNG.

  • Oil products (such as crude oil, gasoline, naphtha, diesel and fuel oil) are mainly stored in large-size tanks;
  • Chemical products (such as methanol, xylene, MEG and styrene) are typically stored in smaller tank sizes. Chemical products often require specific storage conditions such as controlled temperature conditions or atmospheres. LPG is a highly flammable product and is stored in refrigerated tanks at about minus 40°C or in bullets under high pressure;
  • Biofuels and vegetable oils: bio-ethanol is often stored in the same size tanks as chemicals and requires similar specific storage conditions. Bio-diesel and vegetable oils are often stored in the same size tanks with less restricted storage conditions than chemicals;
  • LNG is stored in specially-designed full containment large tanks and is cooled at atmospheric pressure to about minus 160°C.

In general, one customer rents one tank for one product during the contract period. However, we also apply co-mingled storage, where multiple customers use similar capacity for a product, provided that the product specification is equal and customers agree on this optimization mechanism. When properly cleaned when changing products, some tanks can be used for multiple products which provide flexibility in storage capacity. The wide variety of liquid bulk products that we can store attracts customers that produce or trade more than one type of product.

We also offer additional handling services at our terminals. Examples of these are blending two products, mixing additives into a product, applying a nitrogen blanket on top of a product to push out oxygen, heating or cooling products and loading or unloading ships, railcars and trucks. At many locations, we can also assist our customers with customs formalities and documentation.

Who are Vopak’s customers?

The majority of our customers are generally active in the chemical and oil industries. They include national and international chemical and oil companies, governments, downstream customers, utility providers and traders of oil products, crude oil, chemicals, biofuels and vegetable oils.

These customers can be divided into three large categories

  • global customers (active at multiple locations in Vopak’s global network),
  • regional customers (active at more than one location within a region) and
  • local customers (active at one location).

Vopak has a specific approach and offering for each of these customer categories and we offer global and regional network accounts. More information is available in our annual reports.

Business environment and competitive strengths

What are the main drivers in the demand for Vopak's tank storage services?

The demand for storage at Vopak’s terminals is driven primarily by imbalances, locally and globally, between the areas of production and the areas of consumption of the products, as well as by the level of general economic activity and related level of energy consumption. Vopak believes that geographic imbalances are increasing, both at a regional and global level. As a result, Vopak believes that the demand for physical transportation, efficient and safe storage and handling is expected to increase.

Vopak accordingly explores opportunities for future growth. Vopak is focussing its network on four types of terminals:

  • Hub terminals, supporting intercontinental product flows; 
  • Import distribution terminals in major markets with structural deficits; 
  • Terminals facilitating growth in global gas markets;
  • Industrial terminal and chemicals terminals in the Americas, the Middle East and Asia.

Vopak expects demand for storage to be strong in non-OECD countries which experience population growth and benefit from an increasing gross domestic product and growing mobility. These trends generally result in increased energy consumption and increased demand for fossil fuels. Growing industrial production and increasing (food) consumption in these regions causes demand for chemicals and vegetable oils to increase as well. The International Energy Agency expects that demand for energy will continue to increase by one-third over the period up to 2035 mainly from non-OECD countries. Vopak believes that energy imbalances will continue to increase accordingly.

In OECD countries, growth opportunities exist as well mainly due to growing imbalances. These include sustainable changes in oil production flows, changes in the refining sector at large and a drive to diversify energy sources into, for example, LNG and biofuels.

Who are Vopak’s competitors?

Competition is fragmented and localized. For Vopak, it’s relative competitive position in every port is a key driver for investments and positions in the local market. The only other competitor with a global terminal network that uses partly the same focused business model as Vopak is privately owned and traditionally more geared towards storing oil products. This competitor also operates inland terminals. Several other competitors operate exclusively in the US. Many competitors also have businesses in other sectors and activities like pipeline operations, shipping or trading.

A detailed overview of Vopak’s main competitors can be found in Vopak’s roadshow presentation

What are Vopak’s competitive strengths?

Vopak benefits from the following strengths. 

Global market leader with terminals in strategic and diversified locations

Vopak is the world’s largest independent tank storage service provider by capacity for liquid bulk products with a global network of terminals. 

Vopak’s terminals that it operates today are strategically located for customers using major shipping routes at seaports close to areas of production and areas of consumption. In addition, Vopak’s terminal network has global coverage serving different functions, such as import, export, regional distribution and industrial terminal activities for oil products, chemicals, gases and vegetable oils.

As a leader in the industry and with its diverse, well-established customer base, Vopak has extensive knowledge of global transportation flows for liquid bulk products, has access to data necessary to accurately estimate related trends in future demand and believes that its customers trust and expect that Vopak’s terminals, old and new, will adhere to its historical high operational standards. As a result, Vopak is able to pro-actively improve the quality of its services and its terminal network by adding capacity in ports that its understanding of transportation flows and future demand trends leads it to believe are in attractive strategic locations in relation to its existing network and from a competitive perspective. 

Strong track record and focus on operational safety and efficiency

Health, safety, environmental care and quality are necessarily key components of Vopak’s business practices. Safe and sustainable operations are our license to operate and we go to great lengths to be open and transparent about our operations. Customers, employees, neighbors, local communities, authorities and other stakeholders expect that it will adhere to strict standards. Vopak operates a “fundamentals on safety” program that places safety before anything else. Vopak code of conduct tie in with the requirements on safety and risk management that are applicable to customers from the oil and chemical industries. As a result of many safety initiatives, Vopak has succeeded in lowering its personal and process incidents significantly. Vopak believes, on the basis of its close relationship with customers, that they attach a high value to the operational safety it offers them.

Storage is an essential part of the value chain of Vopak’s customers, which directly or indirectly affects customer margins. Vopak’s terminals support and optimize the reliability and efficiency of its customers’ logistic processes. Accordingly, by operating efficiently, customers can be attracted and retained. Vopak’s standards of its operating procedures are among the highest in the industry and that efficiency in the terminals it operates is high.

Diversified well-established customer base in different product-markets and an attractive combination of long term and short-term customer contracts

Vopak’s customers include national and international chemical and oil companies, governments, downstream customers, utility providers and traders of oil products, crude oil, chemicals, biofuels and vegetable oils. These customers can be divided into three approximately equally large categories by revenue: global customers (active at multiple locations in Vopak’s global network), regional customers (active at more than one location within a region) and local customers (active at one location of Vopak).

Vopak’s diversity of its customer base with contracts with various durations, the well established nature of its significant customers and the broad range of products that they offer for storage, in combination with its diversified global terminal network, enable it to enjoy relatively stable revenues.

Strong industry focus and disciplined capital growth

Vopak is an independent storage service provider for liquid bulk products. Providing storage of liquid bulk is a highly capital intensive business model.  Vopak aims to maintain a robust financial position through disciplined investment decisions, effective working capital management, long-term funding with diversified maturities and a balanced dividend policy. Vopak reviews value-accretive expansion opportunities on an ongoing basis, while striving to maintain a strong balance sheet, supported by flexible access to different sources of debt and equity. Vopak strictly adheres to a prudent and disciplined investment methodology that it has carefully developed over the many years that it has been active in the industry. After having identified a commercial opportunity, Vopak assesses, on the basis of various financial parameters, whether and how an investment can be made prudently, and whether it should do so alone or with partners. Vopak takes into account specific circumstances such as the presence of a pre-committed customer and pre-contracted capacity with generally long-term contracts. Vopak’s experience allows it to grow through greenfield development, brownfield development and acquisitions and, where relevant, via joint ventures and associates. Investments have been generally executed on time and within budget. This prudent financial policy supports the continued expansion of Vopak’s business. It also supports that Vopak’s investment-grade profile, which enables Vopak to access financing needed for reaching its strategic goals at acceptable terms.

Experienced management team and organization

Vopak has a highly experienced senior executive team with deep industry knowledge. In addition, Vopak has an experienced and talented senior management at the divisional level and for its global LNG operations. Vopak’s organization is aligned as far as ambition, strategy and operational standards are concerned. Vopak has a longstanding program to develop potential future managers. Accordingly, Vopak not only today has managerial strength and depth, but it should be able to maintain such in the future.

What does Vopak Project Management comprehend?

Vopak reviews value-accretive expansion opportunities on an ongoing basis, while striving to maintain a strong balance sheet, supported by flexible access to different sources of debt and equity funding. Vopak strictly adheres to a prudent and disciplined investment methodology (Vopak Project Management, VPM) that it has carefully developed over the many years that it has been active in the industry. VPM provides minimum requirements for project management execution within Vopak. Its purpose is to safeguard that projects are safely and efficiently executed within the allocated budget and time span as per the approved investment proposal. The VPM-model is based on a stage-gate process to ensure that the right decisions are taken at the right time.

The VPM-model identifies five stages:

  1. Identification: Commercial opportunities are identified, the feasibility of a project is assessed and aligned with the business strategy of Vopak
  2. Selection: The preferred commercial opportunities identified in stage one are further developed and a selection is made
  3. Definition: The project scope and timing of the selected projects is determined, including whether to develop a project alone or with partners, and the costs and funding methods are evaluated. At the end of this stage a final investment decision is made by the Executive Board (subject to the approval of the Supervisory Board for projects above a certain threshold)
  4. Execution: A project is engineered and executed in line with the sanctioned scope, costs and timeframe
  5. Evaluation: The performance of a project is evaluated to ensure performance in line with the sanctioned business case

In addition to the scheduled expansion plans disclosed, at any given time, there are a substantial number of identified potential opportunities for the expansion of Vopak’s capacity being reviewed in the first three stages of the VPM-model and the preceding exploration stage.

Risks

What does Vopak’s risk management entail?

Vopak continually strives to strike the right balance between effective and professional entrepreneurship and effective control of the strategic, market, operational and financial risks arising from its ordinary business activities. Our risk management and internal controls, based on the COSO Enterprise Risk Management Framework, make a significant contribution to the prompt identification and adequate management of strategic and market risks. They also support us in achieving our operational and financial targets and complying with legislation and regulations. To this end, the Executive Board collaborates closely with the management of the divisions and the operating companies, as well as with the corporate staff departments. Joint ventures are included in this. The risks and controls identified are set out in a ‘risk register’ that is available to management and the Executive Board. The management teams regularly discuss the risks and measures taken and include them in their quarterly reporting. Risks and progress made on new measures are also covered in quarterly meetings with the Executive Board.

The Vopak business model is characterized by a balanced global portfolio, with a geographical spread of terminals (in OECD and non-OECD countries), different types of terminals (hub, import/export, industrial), handling a wide range of products (oil products, crude oil, liquid and gaseous chemicals, LNG, LPG, biofuels and vegetable oils), different contract types (industrial, long-, medium- and short- term), and various types of customers (national and international chemical and oil companies, governments, downstream customers, utility providers and traders of oil products, crude oil, chemicals, biofuels and vegetable oils). Any changes or fine-tuning to our balanced business model are subject to clear management decisions, in line with Vopak´s risk-reward appetiteDefining Vopak’s risk-reward appetite is a core responsibility of the Executive Board.

More detailed information regarding Vopak’s risk management is available in our annual reports.

To what extent is Vopak exposed to fluctuations and risks in foreign exchange rates?

Vopak is mainly exposed to foreign currency translation risks. The transactional currency exchange risks are limited, as generally revenues, costs and financing are denominated in the same currency. Vopak is mainly exposed to foreign currency exchange risk on the US dollar and the Singapore dollar. Accordingly, movements in the value of these currencies relative to each other and to the euro can have a significant impact on Vopak’s results, particularly to the extent that these fluctuations occur between the time at which a particular cost is incurred and the time at which the related revenues are recognized.

Although Vopak’s exposure is limited when operating income and operating expenses are denominated in the same currency, in certain areas, such as Latin America, operating expenses tend to be denominated in local currency and a substantial portion of revenues are denominated in US dollars. Although not all risk can be mitigated, Vopak seeks to hedge any resulting material net transaction positions by entering into forward contracts depending on the circumstances.

Vopak has borrowed funds in private placements denominated in foreign currency. Accordingly, Vopak is exposed to currency risk on the interest and principal of these borrowings. Vopak has sought to hedge this exposure by making use of foreign currency contracts and cross-currency swaps. The fair value changes of the foreign currency contracts and the currency component of the cross-currency swaps are recognized directly in the statement of income to compensate for the exchange differences on the hedged positions.

Property, plant and equipment

Does Vopak own the land on which it operates?

The land on which the terminals are built is generally not owned by Vopak, but instead is rented, leased or given in concession pursuant to long-term contracts with port authorities. This is normal practice for companies that are active in ports. The duration of the land-use contract is an important consideration in the assessment of investment opportunities.

In a limited number of instances, Vopak owns the land on which it operates.

Vopak’s leases and concessions are typically granted for extended time periods, in certain cases in excess of 50 years. Many leases and concessions contain extension provisions, giving Vopak the unilateral right to extend the term of the contract. In other cases, extensions of leases and concessions are negotiated with the relevant authorities well in advance of the expiry of the agreements. Vopak endeavors to maintain a well balanced maturity profile of its land lease commitments and concessions. The rental amounts are generally derived from a tariff per square meter that is customary for business activities in a particular port. It may also include charges for the use of dedicated jetties in case these are owned by the relevant port. Most contracts contain provisions for the indexation of the rentals, for which generally a local consumer price index related factor is applied. The exact terms and conditions of lease agreements and concession agreements may differ significantly between countries, or even between ports within the same country.

Does Vopak own the terminal infrastructure it operates?

In general, Vopak owns the tanks, jetties and other terminal infrastructure. In a number of locations, dedicated jetties are owned by the relevant port, whereby Vopak leases jetty capacity from the port.

How are Vopak’s assets being depreciated?

Depreciation may differ for different components of the tanks at these terminals. According IFRS, depreciation periods can range from three years for machinery, equipment and fixtures to 40 years for the main components of a tank. Maintenance is supposed to extend the lifetime of the different components of a terminal by many years.

Definitions

How does Vopak calculate the occupancy rate?

Occupancy rate is the average capacity in cubic meters of all tanks that are rented out during the reported period divided by the average total available capacity (including the out of service capacity due to maintenance and inspection programs) during the reported period. A tank rented out on a tonnage basis or on a commingled storage basis is taken into the calculation as fully occupied. Only consolidated subsidiaries are included in the calculation, not joint ventures, associates and other equity interests.

How does Vopak calculate the storage capacity?

‘Storage capacity’ is defined as the total available storage capacity (jointly) operated by Vopak at the end of the reporting period, being storage capacity for subsidiaries, joint ventures, associates (with the exception of Maasvlakte Olie Terminal in the Netherlands, which is based on the attributable capacity, being 1,085,786 cbm), and other (equity) interests, and including currently out of service capacity due to maintenance and inspection programs.

Financial reporting

What is Vopak's fiscal year?

The fiscal year of Vopak is the calendar year ending on 31st December.

When will Vopak announce its financial results?

The dates for Vopak’s results and other financial events can be found in the Financial calendar.

When is your next earnings release and conference call?

The dates for Vopak’s results and other financial events can be found in the Financial calendar.

Where can I find Vopak's latest annual report?

All our reports, presentations and financial fact-sheets can be downloaded from our reports page.

Does Vopak issue quarterly reports?

Vopak publishes a complete set of figures per full year and per half year. Following Q1 and Q3 a trading update is provided.

Shareholder information

Who are Vopak's major shareholders?

What is the number of outstanding common shares?

What is Vopak's dividend policy?

When is the next general shareholders' meeting?

The date for Vopak’s next general shareholders’ meeting can be found in our Financial calendar.

Where are Vopak's shares listed?

Koninklijke Vopak N.V. is listed on NYSE Euronext Amsterdam. Its ordinary shares are included in the Amsterdam Midkap Index.

Where are Vopak options traded?

Vopak options are traded continuously on the Amsterdam Options Exchange.

What is the ticker symbol for Vopak shares?

The ticker symbol for Vopak shares is VPK-AE and the ISIN code is NL0009432491.

Under what codes do information providers mention Vopak?

Information about Vopak can be found under following symbols:

  • Reuters: VOPA.AS
  • Bloomberg: VPK.NA