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“Surplus oil is filling inventories worldwide” – Reuters

Have you ever wondered, as you pay your energy bill or fill the fuel tank in your vehicle, just why oil prices have risen so much on the past decade? The question occurred to the blog when reading a Reuters report of the latest Outlook from the International Energy Agency (IEA). It notes the IEA […]

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Crude oil’s slide puts markets under pressure

Crude oil markets long ago lost their role of price discovery. Since early 2009, they have instead been dominated by pension funds seeking to find a ‘store of value’ as the US$ weakened, along with hedge funds enjoying a money-making ‘momentum play‘. The reason has been the $tns spent by western central banks in their […]

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“Its the oil price, stupid!”

Famously, when Bill Clinton ran his successful presidential campaign in 1992, his advisers would remind him of the key message with just one phrase “Its the economy, stupid!”. Today’s policymakers would do well to maintain a similar focus on the oil price, if they want to understand today’s lack of demand. Somehow, everyone seems to […]

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Fed liquidity boosts oil prices as fundamentals weaken

Oil prices long ago moved away from the fundamentals, as the US Federal Reserve targeted asset price bubbles in a misguided effort to magic up consumption gains. Thus we have to focus on sentiment indicators, as in the chart above, to anticipate likely developments: • Monthly US oil inventories hit a new record for November […]

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Cracks appear in crude oil pricing

Crude oil and the major commodity markets have been a “fool’s paradise” in the past 4 years, created by the arrival of the central banks’ massive liquidity programmes. Pension funds rushed to buy, in the belief they would be a “store of value”. Hedge funds followed them as a momentum play, encouraged by analyst reports […]

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Oil prices at record level for 2nd successive year

Crude oil prices remained at a record level for the second year running in 2012. As the chart shows, Brent prices averaged $112/bbl versus $111/bbl in 2011 (blue line). By comparison, 2008 averaged $97/bbl, or $102 if adjusted for inflation (red): • 2008 still holds the record for the highest-ever daily price at $144/bbl on […]

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High oil prices present recession risk

Oil prices are heading for a second successive year of record annual prices. Last year, Brent averaged $111/bbl and it is averaging similar levels so far in 2012. History suggests this is very bad news for consumers, for companies and for the global economy. The reason is that consumers in most major economies are now […]

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Chemical industry operating rates fall as oil prices rise

The battle between the major central banks and the fundamentals of supply/demand is starting resemble the battlefields of the 1st World War. The generals running the campaign believe (with the exception of the Bank of Japan) that today’s crisis is simply due to a lack of liquidity. They ignore the impact of demographics and the […]

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IEA highlights $18tn of gains from energy efficiency

“Energy efficiency is the cheapest way to meet our energy needs” according to the International Energy Agency. It also has much shorter payback periods than increased use of renewables, according to Capella Festa of the IEA when speaking at our conference last week. Even modest efforts would cut fuel bills by 20%, and add $18tn […]

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Buyers start selling benzene as demand disappears

What happens if prices stay unaffordable for so long, that the consumer eventually stops buying? Younger readers may not remember such a period, as it last happened in the early 1980s, before the SuperCycle began. But it looks as though they may be close to finding out. As ever, benzene is the key indicator for […]

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