US, Iran to meet – crude drops $20/bbl

I suggested at the weekend that the Iran issue had the potential to move oil prices by $50/bbl either way. Since then, prices have fallen $20/bbl to $130/bbl, on news that the USA and Iran will meet tomorrow for the first time in nearly 30 years. If they reach agreement on the nuclear issue, oil prices will almost certainly fall further, as the threat to exports via the Strait of Hormuz is removed. Alternatively, if diplomacy fails, any bombing by Israel of Iran could easily cause prices to soar to $200/bbl.

Maintaining price hedges against both outcomes therefore seems the right strategy for chemical companies, given this uncertainty. If prices do fall further, working capital will take a major hit, as stocks are revalued downwards. Current price initiatives will probably also collapse. Equally, if bombing does take place, and oil prices jump in response, it is most unlikely that these higher costs will be quickly recovered in product prices.

About Paul Hodges

Paul Hodges is Chairman of International eChem, trusted commercial advisers to the global chemical industry. The aim of this blog is to share ideas about the influences that may shape the chemical industry over the next 12 – 18 months. It will try to look behind today’s headlines, to understand what may happen next in important issues such oil prices, economic growth and the environment. We may also have some fun, investigating a few of the more offbeat events that take place from time to time. Please do join me and share your thoughts. Between us, we will hopefully develop useful insights into the key factors that will drive the industry's future performance.

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