Published: June 13, 2020
In 2011 Ian Taylor flew into Libya at the height of that country’s civil war to reach an oil deal with rebels who were then within months of ending Colonel Gaddafi’s 42-year dictatorship.
Although it was a straight swap, fuel oil for crude oil, when Gaddafi blew up the main pipeline to block the crude flow, the rebels ran a tab of more than $500 million (£312 million) before they could pay up. “It was a reasonable gamble,” Taylor said, “but maybe we shouldn’t have done that one.”
He was then chief executive of Vitol, a Dutch firm that became the world’s biggest independent oil trader under his leadership. Set up as a partnership, like a big accountancy or law firm, where all the partners source