Archive for the ‘trading’ Category

Falling oil prices, new regulations spell trouble for Bakken

Amid falling oil prices, another factor has come into play that could start to curtail North Dakota’s crude production. On December 9th, the state’s three-person Industrial Commission approved an order requiring Bakken crude to be conditioned before it is transported.

The order, to go into effect April 1, will limit Bakken to a vapor pressure of no more than 13.7 per square inch, 1 psi below the national standard of 14.7. It also requires that operators separate light hydrocarbons from the crude and prohibits blending light hydrocarbons back into the oil.

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Vitol’s CEO sees up-and-down oil prices, but it isn’t an opportunity

The kind of crazy up-and-down movements of the oil markets in recent weeks and months is not a ripe opportunity for a major trading company like Vitol. In fact, its CEO and chairman Ian Taylor says that whipsaw activity is a nightmare for his company.

“A market that is up $3 in the morning, down at lunchtime and then back up again at the close is almost impossible to hedge,” Taylor said in a one-on-one interview this week as part of the Platts Global Energy Forum. “I don’t think the trading companies do particularly well in that environment.” (Full disclosure: I conducted the interview with Taylor at the forum’s luncheon.)

And contrary to some beliefs, a relatively calm market that goes on many months — like the first part of 2014 — isn’t quite as bad as it might seem. “You’re making an assumption that traders speculate,” Taylor said when asked whether the first relatively non-volatile part of the year was a difficult time for a trading company. “Hardly any trading companies in existence today speculate. Shell, BP, Vitol…we don’t do flat price trading. A predictable long-term trend is much easier to handle.”

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Did crude oil export supporters rush to crow about EIA report?

Shortly after the US Energy Information Administration released a report last week on what drives US gasoline prices, the American Petroleum Institute declared its findings a significant argument in favor of dropping all restrictions on US crude oil exports.

The EIA report “confirms that lifting trade restrictions on U.S. crude oil could benefit U.S. consumers and promote America’s economic growth,” the oil and gas industry’s key trade association said in a statement.

That same day, the Producers for American Crude Oil Exports, a lobbying group backed by independent oil companies including Anadarko Petroleum, ConocoPhillips and Hess, said the EIA report backed the group’s calls for liberalizing the crude export restrictions which have been in place for nearly 40 years.

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For US airline industry, a penny saved on jet fuel is $180 million earned

I flew two different airlines last week. Both were packed.

Despite Ebola fears. Despite high ticket prices. Despite a slowing global economy. Despite high jet fuel prices.

Wait. Scratch that last one.

Spot market jet fuel prices have plunged as much as 50 cents below the 2014 average.

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North American crude exports: foreshadowing the future or blip on the radar?

Three North American crude exports — two from Canada and one from Alaska — captured headlines the last few weeks because of their unusual departure and arrival points.

Phillips 66 exported a cargo of Alaska North Slope crude to South Korea on September 26, the first time the grade had been exported since 2004. Sources indicated the shipment was a one-off and that the tanker was likely headed for dry dock to undergo maintenance.

However, the ever-growing rise in cheaper Bakken crude has displaced other grades on the West Coast, and a very narrow Brent/WTI spread has made Brent-based imports from Latin America and the Middle East much more profitable than WTI-based crudes like ANS.

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A veteran economist looks at oil price collapses of yore, and sees parallels to today

Phil Verleger has a long memory.

Phil is a veteran energy economist, and he and I have been emailing each other over the course of the last week, recalling the oil price collapse of the mid 1980’s. As he noted, there are a dwindling number of of people still in the industry who remember that. But I had just joined Platts when the great collapse of 1985-1986 took place. On April 1, 1986, WTI plunged to less than $10 and no, it wasn’t an April Fool’s joke. (It remains the only day in the history of the WTI contract, launched in 1983, that the price ever “printed” a number less than double digits. It has never settled at less than $10.)

In his latest weekly report, Phil recalls that fall, as well as the collapse of 1998-1999. While WTI prices didn’t drop below the $10 level in the late 90’s, the levels of that period, after adjusting for inflation, were the lowest in history.

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Guest post: Brent crude oil now has the biggest chunk of the GSCI

Jodie Gunzberg is the global  head of commodities for S&P Dow Jones Indices, which like Platts is part of McGraw Hill Financial. She writes on commodity investing on the Indexology blog. Her post from October 2, announcing an historic shift in the oil makeup of the S&P GSCI, is reproduced here. 

The S&P GSCI 2015 Rebalance Preview marks a historic shift in the benchmark renowned for its world production weight.

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Takeoff, eh? At time of need, New York jet fuel heads to Canada

New York jet fuel prices spiked from mid-July through August, and new data gives more insight why. Blame Canada.

Canada may be sending everything from comedians and crude into the US. But in July, it took in a good bit of US jet fuel, mostly out of New York.

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Kurdish attempts to sell oil are not going to get support from the Obama administration

For two months now, the United Kalavrvta tanker holding 1 million barrels of Kurdish crude has idled in international waters off the coast of Galveston, Texas, awaiting a District Court ruling on whether the oil will be allowed to be sold in the US.

But if the Kurdistan Regional Government is hoping that the Obama administration will soften its stance in opposition to Kurdish oil exports, that doesn’t appear likely, even as the US seeks to aid the Kurdish peshmerga in their fight against the Islamic jihadist group IS.

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A physical attack at a steel conference, a metaphor for tight credit

There was blood on the floor at the China Iron & Steel Association conference in Dalian Thursday. Literally.

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