Christopher's Feed
Dec 28, 2012
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Coal’s ascendancy to leave ailing U.S. miners in pit

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

Coal’s ascendancy looks set to leave already ailing U.S. miners stuck in a pit. Within five years, the black rock is likely to replace oil as the world’s top energy source, according to the International Energy Agency. That should be good news for America’s miners, which are sitting on 28 percent of the planet’s coal. But they’re ill placed to do well from the boom.

Dec 7, 2012
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Freeport deal triangle gets cozier and cozier

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By Christopher Swann

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

Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold’s foray into energy keeps getting cozier for the top executives involved. The U.S. mining group’s market value has plunged $6 billion following news of its planned purchase of Plains Exploration & Production and McMoRan Exploration. Yet Jim Bob Moffett, Freeport’s chairman, and James Flores, chief executive of Plains, will come out ahead.

Dec 3, 2012
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SandRidge CEO sets bar even lower for oil patch

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By Christopher Swann

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

Tom Ward, chief executive of troubled oil and gas explorer SandRidge Energy, has set the bar even lower for the oil patch. He is not the first energy boss to live large at shareholders’ expense. But his extravagance at the nearly $3 billion U.S. company would make even TV villain J.R. Ewing blush. Angry owners are right to want him out.

Oct 18, 2012
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U.S. energy boom spurs economic vs political clash

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

America’s energy boom is spurring a clash between the realms of politics and economics. Meaningful exports of oil have been banned for almost a century. But with output surging and crude fetching a 20 percent discount at home, producers want to ship it overseas. BP, Royal Dutch Shell and four others have applied for limited licenses to do just that. Unblocking trade could benefit everyone.

Oct 9, 2012
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IMF’s long-term worry: decades of higher rates

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By Christopher Swann and Martin Hutchinson

The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

The International Monetary Fund has a new long-term worry: decades of higher interest rates. Don’t get too comfortable with low borrowing costs, is the downbeat message from the normally overoptimistic fund’s flagship World Economic Outlook. Slightly feebler growth of 3.3 percent for 2012 is the short-term concern. But past fiscal excesses and an ageing population could push up interest rates for a generation.

Oct 5, 2012
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Even one-sided Chinese investment has its benefits

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By Christopher Swann

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

Canada wants equal rights for its companies to pile into China.  The country’s opposition leader says his compatriots would be “chumps” if they allowed state-owned CNOOC to buy Canadian oil group Nexen without China granting equal access to its natural resources. Demands for reciprocity seem only fair. But workers and investors in rich countries gain even if the money flows only one way. It’s the Middle Kingdom that misses out by being less welcoming.

Sep 26, 2012
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Nixing China’s oil bid may create Canada discount

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By Christopher Swann

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

Canada is at risk of slapping a national discount on its resources sector. Investors reckon there’s a roughly one-in-four chance that the country’s politicians will block a $15.1 billion offer by China’s CNOOC for local energy company Nexen. Takeovers by state-owned companies raise tricky questions. But hoisting the national flag over a company of little strategic importance risks further alienating outside investors.

Jul 6, 2012
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Duke CEO sucker punch a value lesson for investors

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By Christopher Swann

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

Leadership is supposed to have its privileges. So naming the chief executive was a prize electric firm Progress Energy demanded when selling itself to larger rival Duke Energy. In return they accepted a tiny premium. That Progress’ man Bill Johnson lasted only hours in his job is a reminder to investors never to sacrifice value for the prestige of getting the top job.

Jul 2, 2012
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Indispensability of Chesapeake CEO is exaggerated

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By Christopher Swann

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

Chesapeake Energy’s Aubrey McClendon has managed to ride out scandals that would have dislodged any ordinary chief executive. The gas firm’s boss owes this remarkable staying power in large part to a myth of unsackability. McClendon’s groupies claim his talent and natural wildcatting instincts make him indispensable. Even some investors disgusted by his numerous abuses fear he has created a firm so complicated that only he can manage it. Both place too high a value on the CEO and too little on Chesapeake’s vast asset portfolio.

Jun 14, 2012
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OPEC starting to look like a cartel of one

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By Christopher Swann and Kevin Allison
The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

Twelve nations belong to OPEC but only Saudi Arabia has mattered of late. At the latest meeting in Vienna, the kingdom again batted away Venezuela, Iran and others who wanted to cut output. The deepening divide in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries could face a more serious test if prices keep sliding.

    • 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."
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