History shows that that governments usually lose arguments with energy suppliers. UK premier Harold Macmillan summed up the position when talking about coal miners in the 1950s, warning: “There are three bodies no sensible man directly challenges: the Roman Catholic Church, the Brigade of Guards and the National Union of Mineworkers” Unfortunately, Europe now potentially faces an argument with its leading gas […]
Tag Archives | Brent oil prices
Whisper it quietly to your friends in the oil business. But oil prices are looking very vulnerable. Producers and the central banks have done a great job in creating the myth of imminent shortages – these have always been ‘just about to happen’ as a result of supply disruptions or the long-promised recovery in global […]
“May you live in interesting times” is a Chinese proverb which has an alternative meaning as a curse. And the blog suspects this duality of meaning may start to make a lot of sense as we go through 2014. We have, after all, been in a very strange world for the past 5 years. Markets […]
Sometimes the blog’s mind goes back to its happy days in Houston, Texas, when it set up and ran ICI’s feedstock and petchems trading office. And it thinks through the factors that it would have considered when deciding whether to buy, sell or sit on the sidelines. The memory came back during last week’s lively ACS webinar, when […]
The blog has a suggestion for a quiz question for anyone planning party games over the Christmas period: Q. What was the longest distance travelled by a cargo of crude oil in 2013? A. 9000 km (5500 miles) from Scotland to China Isn’t that amazing? We are constantly being told that supply is short, and that today’s high prices are […]
Pity for a moment those poor souls whose income depends on finding ever-more creative ways of justifying today’s record levels of oil prices. One by one, all their favourite stories have disappeared. Even the traditional summer warnings of record hurricane disruption have so far failed to deliver. How different it is from the start of the crisis, when the […]
Think back over the past 5 years. Can you remember a single time when oil supplies were actually difficult to find? If you can’t, then you have the same memory as the blog. Official statistics support this view. Thus last week’s US EIA report noted that “U.S. crude oil inventories are near the upper limit […]
As executives return to their desks this week, they face some difficult judgement calls. As the chart shows, markets have been worryingly quiet over the summer. Most products in the IeC benchmark portfolio are unchanged. Only Brent crude oil and naphtha have moved higher - due to Syria concerns - whilst benzene has moved lower. But even these are relatively minor movements. This […]
Brent crude oil prices have now dropped $20/bbl since their February peak at $119/bbl. The major drop has occurred this month, following the Bank of Japan’s decision to introduce its own massive liquidity programme. This confirms the blog’s long-standing argument that the fundamentals of supply/demand had nothing to do with oil’s rise from $30/bbl to […]
Crude oil markets long ago lost their role of price discovery. Since early 2009, they have instead been dominated by pension funds seeking to find a ‘store of value’ as the US$ 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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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.