Christopher's Feed
May 24, 2011
via Breakingviews

El Paso reminds Big Oil breaking up is easy to do

By Christopher Swann
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

NEW YORK — Divorce is all the rage for energy investors. The modest lift the $15 billion El Paso got from cleaving wildcatting from pipelines may not do justice to market enthusiasm since the move had been expected. But trailblazers like Marathon also have held onto their split gains. Oil majors now have a full body of evidence of what investors want.

May 16, 2011
via Breakingviews

IMF fracas offers chance for Third World revamp

By Christopher Swann
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Emerging economies were always going to have a bigger say in the affairs of the International Monetary Fund. Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s shocking arrest over the weekend should accelerate that moment. While Europeans have traditionally led the IMF, recruiting a new chief from an emerging economy — particularly one that’s been through the IMF wringer — could broaden support for the fund among rising powers.

May 2, 2011
via Breakingviews

Coal bubble rears head in Arch’s $3.4 bln ICG bid

By Christopher Swann
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

The coal bubble has reared its blackened face yet again, if the reaction of Arch Coal’s shareholders to its $3.4 billion takeover of a rival is any indication. The company is paying a premium to International Coal Group that’s well above the capitalized value of potential synergies. And though investors belatedly bid down shares of Arch, they have yet to fully recognize the extent of value destruction.

Apr 21, 2011
via Breakingviews

Fracking leak hands Earth Day gift to green energy

By Christopher Swann
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Fracking didn’t quite get its Macondo moment. Chesapeake Energy’s fluid spill in Pennsylvania looks minor compared to BP’s Gulf of Mexico explosion exactly a year ago. All the same, the incident will galvanize critics of hydraulic fracturing, a process that releases natural gas from shale rock by blasting it with water, sand and chemicals. As well as deepwater oil, coal and nuclear operations have both had recent disasters. With Friday designated Earth Day, it’s a well-timed gift for renewable energy firms.

Apr 12, 2011
via Breakingviews

Gas can’t afford to lose green trump card

The attack on gas is growing. A new report alleges the fuel source is worse for global warming than coal. It’s the latest strike against its green credentials. But unlike coal, gas producers have the technology to capture the emissions. The industry should strike back by embracing tougher standards if it wants to win the fight for market share.

The notion that gas is the cleanest fossil fuel has been losing steam. A series of recent studies suggest the industry may be spoiling ground water and dredging up radioactive materials. But its proudest claim — of emitting about half as much greenhouse gas as coal — has held firm. Now even this boast has been called into question by Cornell academics.

Apr 6, 2011
via Breakingviews

Transocean bonus mess makes Goldman look sensitive

By Christopher Swann
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Wall Street banks have recently been in a league of their own when it comes to rewarding executives for lousy performance. But by granting safety bonuses, Transocean, the deep sea driller that owned and operated the rig involved in the Macondo disaster, has set a new standard for chutzpah. Hastily donating to a victims’ fund won’t undo the damage. Energy bigwigs on the board have justified public cynicism about the entitlement culture of Big Oil.

Mar 25, 2011
via Breakingviews

Chemicals give Exxon half a reason for integration

By Christopher Swann
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Giant energy firms tend to treat their chemicals units as poor relations. The big exception is Exxon Mobil, whose chemicals business is now benefiting from speedy Asian growth. That gives the biggest oil major an argument for vertical integration that rivals don’t have — but it’s only partially convincing.

Mar 18, 2011
via Breakingviews

Crude markets are being bullied by black swans

By Christopher Swann
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Heads are spinning on oil trading desks. Markets are now weighing two competing tail risks — sliding demand from an injured Japan versus no-fly zones in Libya and Saudi troops in Bahrain. But in the absence of black swans, the relatively abundant flows of oil should eventually drive Brent below $100.

Feb 17, 2011
via Breakingviews

Big Oil gets another lesson from split at Williams

By Christopher Swann
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Maybe now Big Oil will take notice. Williams has followed mid-size peer Marathon Oil with a carve-up plan. The decision to separate the pipeline and exploration businesses immediately boosted Williams’ market value by about $1.5 billion. It’s becoming more apparent that yoking such different operations together obscures value.

Feb 14, 2011

Coal could shine brighter than gold for investors

– The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

By Christopher Swann

NEW YORK (Reuters Breakingviews) – Coal will never displace gold as jewelry. But it has started to outshine as an investment. While gold’s steep rally is threatened by a return to normal monetary policy, surging demand from Asia is pushing coal prices skyward. For those fearing higher inflation coal may be golden.

    • About Christopher

      "I am a columnist at Thomson Reuters focusing on the energy industry and hedge funds. Prior to this I worked at Bloomberg and the Financial Times."
    • Follow Christopher