LONDON, Feb 22 (Reuters) – Political leaders in the
United States and Europe could soon face an uncomfortable choice
between raising the pressure on Iran further or taking steps to
safeguard their economies from the damage wrought by rising oil
Confrontation with Iran and a series of supply disruptions
in South Sudan, Syria and Yemen have pushed prices back to
levels that derailed the recovery in the United States and
Europe last year, and could do again in the first half of 2012.
LONDON, Feb 20 (Reuters) – The chances of a sharp drop
in oil prices similar to the record one-day fall on May 5 last
year are increasing sharply as the market becomes locked into a
classic price spike.
By close of business on February 14, hedge funds and other
money managers were running 7.3 long futures and options
positions linked U.S. crude prices (308 million barrels) for
every short position (42 million barrels), according to
commitments of traders data published by the U.S. Commodity
Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).
LONDON, Feb 17 (Reuters) – Businesses and consumers
across the EU are starting to pay a financial penalty for the
bloc’s decision to ban crude oil imports from Iran.
Near record prices for crude oil in sterling and euro are
compounding the misery many firms and households were already
suffering as a result of the region’s debt crisis and faltering
LONDON, Feb 14 (Reuters) – Is the oil market heading
for a repeat of last year: a big run up in prices during the
first few months followed by a sudden crash when the inflows of
investment money dry up and early entrants try to realise their
There are eerie parallels. Like last year, strongly
accommodative central bank policy from the Federal Reserve and
signs of recovering economic activity in North America and
Western Europe are coupling with physical supply disruptions to
encourage a more bullish outlook for oil.
LONDON, Feb 13 (Reuters) – Seasoned oil market
observers have struggled to find an adequate explanation for the
surge in Brent prices over the past fortnight, which has taken
front-month futures to the highest level since July 2011.
But the conundrum becomes easier to unravel if the focus is
switched from the overall crude supply-demand balance, which
remains comfortable, to balances for individual fuels
(especially distillates) and the types of crudes being impacted
by the supply disruptions.
LONDON, Feb 9 (Reuters) – The dramatic collapse of
European refiner Petroplus and the decision to sell or close
three ageing refineries on the U.S. East Coast is only the first
phase of a revolution set to sweep the global refining system
over the next decade.
The current system has too many refineries in the wrong
places producing the wrong fuels. It will take a massive
upheaval to transform it into a system fit to meet the demands
of the world in 2020. In the process billions of dollars of
obsolete capital investments will have to be written off.
LONDON, Feb 7 (Reuters) – Forward oil prices are
trading at record discounts as the market responds to fears
about near-term shortfalls while also pricing in a big increase
in supplies from the Americas and the Middle East over the next
Front-month Brent futures have been trading above
$116 a barrel, the highest level since November and before that
September 2011, as freezing weather across Europe, signs of
revival in North America and renewed interest in the Brent-WTI
spread shake the oil market out of its recent torpor.
LONDON, Feb 6 (Reuters) – Fracturing oil and gas from
tight rock formations promises secure energy supplies for
generations, but only if industry and regulators can convince
voters it can be done safely without poisoning water supplies or
adding to global warming.
Like other forms of petroleum production, and innovative
technologies such as liquefied natural gas and nuclear, shale
gas and oil need a political “licence to operate”. The
still-born nuclear industry shows what happens when industry and
regulators fail to win the public argument over safety and
LONDON, Jan 30 (Reuters) – Investors’ enthusiasm for
commodity indices and other investment products has supported a
huge expansion in banks’ commodity desks as well as the number
of specialist commodity funds and hedge funds. The question is
whether it can be sustained if returns do not start to improve.
The best columns begin with a chart. This one starts with a
graph showing excess returns on the Standard and Poor’s Goldman
Sachs Light Energy Index since 1970:
LONDON, Jan 27 (Reuters) – Intra-day price movements
are becoming less informative about longer-term changes in oil
prices as the ratio of genuine price signals to random noise
deteriorates, at least over shorter-time horizons.
Even a cursory look at the chart for front-month Brent
futures reveals that significant intra-day moves are
increasingly being reversed before the market closes, more often
than not leaving prices back where they started.