LONDON, April 2 (Reuters) - The world's top energy trader Vitol has poached Benjamin Seaford and William Gayner from rival Mercuria to trade metals, in a move that will help it to further diversify its business, four sources familiar with the matter said.

Seaford and Gayner were previously co-heads of energy trader Mercuria's metals unit where they traded mostly aluminium.

The energy transition, which includes electric vehicles and renewable energy technologies, will need large volumes of metals including aluminium, copper, nickel and cobalt - providing lucrative opportunities for traders.

Vitol and Mercuria declined to comment.

Alongside oil, Vitol is also a major player in the liquefied natural gas (LNG) and power markets. It does not disclose net profit but the Swiss trader made a record $15 billion in 2022, according to a non-public balance sheet seen by Reuters.

Commodity traders with large energy books have made hefty profits over the last two years, after Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022. Europe's already tight gas market became even tighter after the loss of most Russian pipeline gas deliveries, which sent prices soaring.

Vitol hired Habib Esfahanian last October for its iron ore and freight unit, according to Esfahanian's LinkedIn profile. (Reporting by Pratima Desai, Julia Payne and Dmitry Zhdannikov; editing by Veronica Brown and Mark Potter)