US oil inventories at yet another record level

Oil stocks Jan11.pngUS crude oil and product stocks have started the year where they finished in 2010. As the black dot on the above chart from Petromatrix shows, they are at yet another seasonal record. In terms of numbers, they are 101 million barrels above 2008 levels, and even 8 million barrels above last year.

It is clearly a nonsense that prices are still rising, when inventories have been so high, for so long. It is also bound to cause serious problems for the chemical industry when these stocks begin to be unwound, and prices fall.

In the short-term however, it is also leading to political instability in emerging economies, as food prices rocket. As the Financial Times has noted, “intensive agriculture is effectively the extraction of food from petroleum“:

• India’s government is facing serious problems over the rising cost of onions, an essential cooking ingredient
• China is now allowing vegetable trucks to travel toll-free on motorways, to try and keep costs down
• S Korea has released emergency supplies of cabbage, pork and other staples

The blog can’t help feeling that this state of affairs can’t continue for too much longer.

About Paul Hodges

Paul Hodges is Chairman of International eChem, trusted commercial advisers to the global chemical industry. He also serves as a Global Expert for the World Economic Forum. The aim of this blog is to share ideas about the influences that may shape the chemical industry and the global economy over the next 12 – 18 months. It looks behind today’s headlines, to understand what may happen next in critical areas such as oil prices, China and Emerging Markets, currencies, autos, housing, economic growth and the environment. 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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