Before the state-controlled energy firmturns on the spigot the Swiss commodities traders have agreed to endorse a $10bncheck that will be used for what a statement describes as “corporate-wide investmentpurposes”.

When the prepayment is sealed, Glencore willhave secured supply volumes of up to 46.9 million tonnes, which is more thantwo-times the 20.1 million tonnes of crude that Rosneft will provide to Vitol.

Igor Sechin, theRussian conglomerate’s chairman, said the contracts, which started to take shapelast year, will help its counterparties “optimise the transportation andlogistics chains” tied to the sale of crude and refined petroleum products.

Glencore chiefexecutive Ivan Glasenberg noted that the deal will increase his company’saccess to “one of the world’s most important oil markets". In a joint statement,Vitol boss Ian Taylor offered similar praise but kept his commentary short and sweet.

As two of the mostactive charterers of tanker tonnage in the world the alliance between theenergy titans has been on the shipping industry’s radar for some time and isthe subject of Terry Macalister’s Wavelength column in the latest weeklyedition of TradeWinds.