Showing posts with label Geopolitics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Geopolitics. Show all posts

Monday, April 29, 2024

'Crude' carnage, a crazy April & arriving in H-Town

The crazy trading month of April is drawing to a close and the Oilholic is writing this missive on a sunny Houston afternoon, having arrived in H-town for industrial software firm AspenTech's thought leadership event - OPTIMIZE24. More on that later, and over the next couple of days. 

But first, let's sum up April's 'crude' carnage. The Brent front-month contract has broken its $85 per barrel support level. This wasn't looking likely at the start of the month when prices were lurking well above the level and even overshot to $92 in the wake of the Iran-Israel skirmish. Yet, as the second month of the second quarter of the oil trading year nears its conclusion, the price is barely holding above $83. Why? Well in this blogger's humble opinion that's certainly not because the risk has gone away. The residual risk still persists. 

However, with the Iran-Israel tensions having eased and oil sliding from $90+ highs, as trading stumbles into May with (thankfully) no regional damage to energy infrastructure - concerns over demand have resurfaced in a market struggling for direction. On one hand there are still lingering doubts about the performance of China's economy (yes there are) and the general direction of travel for the global economy, while on the other is an overriding sentiment that OPEC will hold firm on its price supportive actions. It what's your truly told Reuters the other day.  

Yes, Beijing is indeed importing record amounts of crude oil. But its importation uptick is nothing like it was pre-Covid. And quite a few of the barrels it is importing are being used to boost its strategic reserves. Furthermore, you can count an economy to have motored on in any given fiscal year if its data was consistently pointing to an upswing in economic sentiment, which it clearly isn't in China's case. Hence the doubts. 

As for OPEC, this blogger keeps hearing suggestions from some that the producers' group has lost control of the crude market. This is bonkers. In fact, the Oilholic doubts OPEC is anywhere even remotely near losing control. 

It appears to be actively positioning for a Brent price that is at least 15-20% higher than pre-Covid levels of around $75, seen at the start of January 2020. That'd be around a $80-$90 - a level that's not too high for buyers, not too low for it and well short of three-figures. It's why a market seeking direction is witnessing the current oscillation, while OPEC is left with plenty of spare capacity.

Away from crude chatter, and on to the happy matter of OPTIMIZE24, an event where the great and the good of the technical and engineering side of energy, industrial, chemical and manufacturing worlds are gathering this week at the behest of AspenTech. This blogger looks forward examining, discussing and learning about the challenges and solutions for the approaching low carbon horizon, and of course joining the dots between improved throughput and meeting emissions targets. 

The event's slogan "Partnering for the future" has a nice ring to it. Let's see how it sings over the next couple of days. More from H-Town soon. Keep reading, keep it here, keep it 'crude'! 

To follow The Oilholic on Twitter click here.
To follow The Oilholic on Forbes click here.
To follow The Oilholic on Motley Fool click here.

© Gaurav Sharma 2024. Photo I: View of  George R. Brown Convention Center and Discovery Green, Downtown Houston, Texas, US, on Apr 29, 2024. Photo II: Gaurav Sharma at AspenTech's OPTIMIZE24 thought leadership conference, Houston, Texas, US., Apr 2024© Gaurav Sharma 2024.

Friday, April 26, 2024

Regular columns for Energy Connects

Dear readers, really excited to share the news that yours truly will now be writing regular opinion columns for global news and analysis platform Energy Connects. The portal, which is a part of the dmgevents portfolio, provides access to an engaged global audience that incorporates the entire energy value chain from oil and gas to wind, solar, utilities, hydrogen and nuclear companies. 

The first of the Oilholic's missives is already online here. Do give it a read, and feedback is welcome as always. Looking forward to offering more thoughts and analysis via Energy Connects on a regular basis from hereon. 

More musings to follow soon. Keep reading, keep it here, keep it 'crude'! 

To follow The Oilholic on Twitter click here.
To follow The Oilholic on Forbes click here.
To follow The Oilholic on Motley Fool click here.

© Gaurav Sharma 2024. 

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

The mad first month of crude trading year 2024

As the first month of the current oil trading year nears its end, the Oilholic's thoughts on the direction of crude prices hasn't materially altered. We're likely to see prices oscillate in the range of $70 and $85 per barrel in 2024, using Brent as a benchmark. And that's because the bearish bias in wider market fundamentals remains the same in a different trading year, despite all the geopolitical flare-ups we've seen October. We'll touch on those later in this blog. However, admittedly it has been the maddest possible start to trading. 

Feeling the pulse of the market and tepid demand, the Saudis made two profound short- and medium-term decisions. The first came early in the month after Aramco - the Saudi state-owned behemoth - announced a cut to official selling prices (OSPs) for all regions, including lucrative Asian markets, for several crude grades. These included Aramco's flagship Arab Light crude oil. Aramco said cuts in Asia would be as high as $2 per barrel versus the Dubai Oman regional crude benchmark from January levels. 

Prices for Europe would be down by $1.50-$2 per barrel versus Brent January prices, while North American exports would see a drop of $2 per barrel versus the Argus Sour Crude Index (ASCI) used to benchmark U.S. Gulf Coast sour grades. The move weighed on oil prices and seemed like a logical one. 

The Saudis, having voluntarily cut their headline production down to 9 million barrels per day (bpd), want to make sure every single drop of it gets sold in a competitive market receiving plenty of barrels, especially of US light crude. 

The second move came late-January, after Aramco said it was stopping its expansion plans and concentrating on a maximum sustained capacity of 12 million bpd. This immediately generated headlines along the lines of the Saudis acknowledging the end of oil, which, as the Oilholic said via market commentary on several broadcasters, is a load of rubbish. 

Aramco plans to finish the oilfields it has started - namely Berri (250,000 bpd), Dammam (75,000 bpd), Marjan (300,000 bpd) and Zuluf (600,000 bpd). There's only one project cancellation and the company intends to let some other existing fields decline. So with respect, it is nothing more than a pragmatic business move faced with changing medium- to long-term demand in a market the Saudis hope to tap with aplomb for as long as they can.

Away from Saudi moves there were geopolitical flash points aplenty. But none of these managed to move the oil price quite like they used to back when US crude barrels weren't keeping the global markets honest. Following weeks of attacks by Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi rebels on energy and commercial shipping in the Red Sea, the US and UK pounded Houthi positions and infrastructure. The Houthis vowed a response and their sporadic attacks on shipping continued. 

Then on January 28, after over 170 drone and missile attacks on US bases in Syria, Jordan and Iraq since October by Iran-backed proxies in the Middle East, one got through and killed three service personnel. The US' imminent response is to be expected and could mark a dangerous escalation. Where this goes is anybody's guess. But an attack by the US on Iranian soil appears unlikely. (Should it happen, and its hasn't since the 1980s, we could see crude prices around the $90s).

As things stand, crude prices remain range bound. January offered precious little to alter this despite it being one of the most volatile starts to a trading year. Well that's all for now folks. More market thoughts to follow. Keep reading, keep it here, keep it 'crude'! 

To follow The Oilholic on Twitter click here.
To follow The Oilholic on Forbes click here.
To follow The Oilholic on Motley Fool click here.
To follow The Oilholic on Rigzone click here.

© Gaurav Sharma 2024. Photo: Gaurav Sharma on Asharq Business with Bloomberg TV in January 2024 © Asharq Business with Bloomberg TV.

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Those loud political bangs in Riyadh

Riyadh, capital of the world’s most prolific of crude oil producing nation – Saudi Arabia – has been rocked by both physical and political bangs this weekend, the Oilholic notes. Overnight, state TV confirmed the Saudis had intercepted a ballistic missile aimed at Riyadh's King Khaled Airport fired by Yemen’s Houthi rebels.

Witnesses reported loud bangs and parts of the destroyed missile were found in the airport’s car park. The Saudis are leading a campaign to defeat the Houthis, as part of an international air coalition that has bombed the rebel group since 2015. Who else, but Iran, purportedly backs the rebels. 

Following the physical bang, came the political bang later in the day in the form of surprise dismissals and arrests of dozens of Saudi ministers, royals, officials and senior military officers by the country’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. 

Even by secretive Saudi standards, the move is unprecedented. It points to an audacious attempt by the Prince to consolidate his power base and move closer to his ultimate objective of ascending to the country’s throne.

His father King Salman has been doing his bit too. Under convention, Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, a seasoned royal, was first in line to the throne to succeed Salman. But the King ousted him from the line of succession and stripped him of his role as interior minister.

Earlier in his reign, King Salman had removed his half-brother Prince Muqrin from the line of succession. By April 2015, the king had appointed Prince Mohammed bin Salman as second-in-line to the throne, giving him the title of deputy crown prince, a move that surprised many senior members of the ruling Saud family.

Now through what on paper appears to be an anti-corruption purge, the father-son duo have all but made sure of Mohammed bin Salman’s safe passage to the throne. However, in highly tribal Saudi Arabia, reports suggest the move has not gone down well. 

How it all plays out in terms of geopolitical risk and the impact all of this could have on the oil price remains to be seen. For now at least, it’s just a few crude bangs, albeit at a time the oil price is back above July 2015 levels. That’s all for the moment folks! Keep reading, keep it crude!

To follow The Oilholic on Twitter click here.
To follow The Oilholic on Google+ click here.
To follow The Oilholic on IBTimes UK click here.
To follow The Oilholic on Forbes click here.

© Gaurav Sharma 2017. Photo: Oil extraction facility in the Middle East © Shell.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Perspectives on a changing energy landscape

That we're in the midst of a profound change in the energy markets in unquestionable. However, fossil fuels still remain the default medium of choice. Within those broader confines, the oil market is seeing a supply-driven correction of the sort that probably occurs once in a few decades.

Meanwhile, peak oil theorists are in retreat following in the footsteps of peak coal theorists last heard of during a bygone era. However, what does it all mean for the wider energy spectrum, where from here and what are the stakes?

Authors and industry experts Daniel Lacalle and Diego Parrilla have attempted to tackle the very questions in their latest work The Energy World is Flat: Opportunities from the end of peak oil (published by Wiley).

In a way, the questions aren’t new, but scenarios and backdrops evolve and of course have evolved to where we currently are. So do the answers, say Lacalle and Parrilla as they analyse the past, scrutinise the present and draw conclusions for future energy market pathways.

In this book of 300 pages, split by 14 interesting chapters, they opine that the energy world is flat principally down to "ten flatteners" along familiar tangents such as geopolitics, reserves and resources, overcapacity, demand displacement and destruction, and of course the economics of the day. 

Invariably, geopolitics forms the apt entry-point for the discussion at hand and the authors duly oblige. As the narrative subtly moves on, related discussions touch on which technologies are driving the current market changes, and how they affect investors. Along the way, there is a much needed discussion about past and current shifts in the energy sphere. You cannot profit in the present, unless you understand the past, being the well rounded message here.

“New frontiers” in the oil and gas business, today’s “unconventional” becoming tomorrow’s “conventional”, and resource projections are all there and duly discussed.

To quote the authors, the world has another 1.5 trillion barrels of proven plus probable reserves that are both technically and economically viable at current prices and available technology, and another 5 trillion-plus barrels that are not under current exploration parameters but might be in the future. Furthermore, what about the potential of methane hydrates?

Politics, of course, is never far from the crude stuff, as Lacalle and Parrilla note delving into OPEC shenanigans and the high stakes game between US shale, Russian and Saudi producers leading to the recent supply glut – a shift with the potential to completely alter economics of the business.

What struck the Oilholic was how in-depth analysis has been packaged by the authors in an engaging, dare one say easy reading style on what remains a complex and controversial discussion. For industry analysts, this blogger including, it’s a brilliant and realistic assessment of the state of affairs and what potential investors should or shouldn’t look at.

The Oilholic would be happy to recommend the book to individual investors, energy economists, academics in the field and of course, those simply curious about the general direction of the energy markets. Policymakers might also find it well worth their while to take notice of what the authors have put forward.

To follow The Oilholic on Twitter click here.
To follow The Oilholic on Google+ click here.
To follow The Oilholic on Forbes click here.
To email: gaurav.sharma@oilholicssynonymous.com

© Gaurav Sharma 2015. © Photo: Front Cover – The Energy World is Flat: Opportunities from the end of peak oil © Wiley Publishers, Feb, 2015.

Friday, December 05, 2014

‘Yukos Affair’ and its shadow over Putin’s Russia

President Vladimir Putin and what colours his vision of modern Russia are under the spotlight like never before. As Ukraine burns and western sanctions hit the Kremlin, Russia’s president remains defiant spewing yet stronger nationalistic rhetoric with a coterie of supporters in tow. Many would find internal politics in Putin’s Russia to be fascinating and repugnant in equal measure.

Yet, in order to understand the present, a past occurrence – the downfall of Yukos and its former chief Mikhail Khodorkovsky – would be a good starting point. In his latest work published by I.B. Tauris, academic Richard Sakwa not only describes the episode in some detail but also contextualises power struggles and insecurities that shaped one of the most controversial episodes in contemporary Russia.

This book isn’t merely Khodorkovsky's story from an unceremonious arrest in 2003 to a surprising release in December 2013. Rather, the author has taken that backdrop to give the readers an insight into the beginning and subsequent evolution of ‘Putinism’ as we know it. 

In just under 300 pages split by 12 chapters, Sakwa, an expert on Russian affairs with half a dozen works under his belt, has portrayed the event as an extraordinary confrontation between the two great forces of modernity – the state and the market – with Putin and Khodorkovsky as antagonists. 

“It was about their associated conceptions of freedom and at the same time – a struggle for Russia,” he writes. Putin’s determination to clip Khodorkovsky’s petrodollar powered wings marked a turning point. The oligarch’s controversial trial(s) attracted widespread international condemnation and ended in one of the world's richest and most powerful men becoming the state's prisoner. 

Far-reaching political and economic consequences in its wake left an indelible black mark about the quality of freedom in Putin's Russia. It also laid bare the complex connection between the Kremlin and big business during Russia's troubling transformation from a planned economy during the Soviet era to capitalism.

Being an outsider, it is easy to feel sympathetic towards Khodorkovsky and castigate the Russian way. However, by not overtly romanticising Khodorkovsky's resistance to Putin’s view of modern Russia, Sakwa paints a convincing picture of how the oligarch turned prisoner himself was no stranger to the contradictory essence of the country's democratic evolution.

As the author notes, Khodorkovsky was not only Putin’s antagonist, but also at the same time a protagonist of the contradictions that the president's regime reflected. Ultimately, it all leads on to how subversion of law and constitutionality has become commonplace in today’s Russia.

While the said subversion started taking hold in post-Soviet Russia, and Khodorkovsky most certainly used it to his advantage when it suited him; it was the oligarch’s ultimate downfall that made the state of affairs manifestly obvious beyond the country’s borders. It resonates today with Putin’s modus operandi as entrenched as ever. 

Through his brilliant, balanced description of a key episode in Russia’s rise towards becoming an oil and gas powerhouse, Sakwa has charted a warning from history on what to expect and where it might lead. The Oilholic would be happy to recommend Putin and the Oligarch to energy analysts, those interested in geopolitics, Russia, Yukos Affair or the oil world at large.

To follow The Oilholic on Twitter click here
To follow The Oilholic on Google+ click here.
To follow The Oilholic on Forbes click here.

© Gaurav Sharma 2014. Photo: Front Cover – Putin and the Oligarch: The Khodorkovsky-Yukos Affair © I.B. Tauris, February 2014.

Friday, November 14, 2014

A crash course in geopolitics

Supply side oil and gas analysts including this blogger, as well as traders of (physical not paper) crude oil contracts feel like tearing their hair when some speculator or the other hits the airwaves citing “risk premium”, “instability premium” or more correctly “geopolitical premium” as the pretext for going long on oil no matter how much of the crude stuff is in the pipeline.

As we are currently witnessing one of those rare moments in the oil market's history when surplus supplies and stunted demand are pretty much neutering the speculators’ geopolitical pretext, you might wonder what the fuss is all about.

Make no mistake; while the selective deployment of geopolitical sentiments in betting on the oil price has always been open to debate, the connection between the oil industry and geopolitics is undeniable. And should you need a crash course, academic Klaus Dodds has the answer.

In his contribution about geopolitics for Oxford University PressA Very Short Introduction series, Dodds breezes you through the subject via a concise book of just under 160 pages, split into six chapters.

When covering a subject this vast for a succinct book concept with case studies aplenty, the challenge is often about what to skip, as much as it is about what to include. The author has been brilliant in doing so via a crisp and engaging narrative.

Having enjoyed this book, which is currently in its second edition, the Oilholic would be happy to recommend it to the readers of this blog. As Dodds himself notes: “It’s essential to be geopolitical” and amen to that!

However, be mindful that it is meant to help you understand geopolitics and contextualise geopolitical influences. It is neither a weighty treatise on the subject nor was intended as such. The title itself makes that clear.

Anyone from an analyst to a GCSE student can pick it up and appreciate it as much as those in a hurry to get to grips with the subject or are of a curious disposition. Should you happen to be in this broad readership profile, one suggests you go for it, and better still keep it handy, given the times we live in!

To follow The Oilholic on Twitter click here.
To follow The Oilholic on Google+ click here.
To follow The Oilholic on Forbes click here.
To email: gaurav.sharma@oilholicssynonymous.com

© Gaurav Sharma, October, 2014. Photo: Front Cover – Geopolitics: A Very Short Introduction © Oxford University Press, June 2014.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Geopolitical loving: When Abe met Modi

The Oilholic finds himself roughly 6,000 miles east of London in Tokyo, Japan. While yours truly is here for cultural and ‘crude’ pursuits, another visitor was in town to firm up a crucial strategic tie-up. It was none other than India’s recently elected Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who popped in to see Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe.

There’s been something of a political loving between these two heads of state. Abe hardly follows anyone on Twitter; Modi being one of the only four people he currently does follow! The Japanese PM was the first among international counterparts to congratulate Modi following his stunning mandate after elections in India. If you think that’s not a big deal, well US President Barack Obama got a welcoming handshake from Abe; NHK footage of Modi’s arrival in Japan shows one heck of a ‘best pal’ Abe-Modi bear hug. Protocol and formality not required between friends seems to be the message.

It is only Modi’s second and most prominent foreign visit since he assumed office this year; no offence to Nepal which was the first destination of his choice. Both leaders lean right, though the Indian PM’s right-wing credentials are stronger in a strictly domestic sense. The Japanese and Indian media went positively ballistic over the visit, atop giving it front-page stuff prominence. It’s extraordinary for all of this to be related to a bilateral meeting between two heads of state, with no priors, unless there was a collaborative attitude behind the scenes.

Any analyst worth his/her weight would note that at the heart of it is a move to counterbalance China, a country that has an uneasy relationship with both India and Japan. As if to underscore the point, Modi, visibly moved with the superb reception he received, criticised the “expansionist” maritime agenda of certain states. Wonder who he could possibly be referring to with the South China Sea so close-by?

Both countries are wary of China, have similar economic problems (cue inflationary concerns) and remain major importers of natural resources. As if for good measure, throw religion into the mix as Japan’s primary faith – Buddhism – was founded in the Indian subcontinent. So finding common ground or the pretext of a common ground is not hard for Abe and Modi.

Now is the Abe-Modi summit a big deal? In the Oilholic’s opinion, the answer is yes. We’ll come to natural resources and ‘crude’ matters shortly, but hear this out first – Japan is to invest US$34 billion spread over the next five years in terms of deal valuation. The trade between the two is insipid at the moment, either side of 1% of the total export pile in each case with the Japanese exporting marginally more than they’re importing from India. That makes the announcement a very positive development.

Japan, according to both men, could turn to India for its rare earth needs, a market led by China. While claims of India becoming a wholesale manufacturing base for Japanese electronics and engineering giants are a bit overblown, to quote the Indian PM: “We see a new era of cooperation in high-end defence technology and equipment.”

As for exchanging views on inflation - India’s, until recently was out of control and has only just been somewhat reigned in with the country's economy starting to gain momentum. Japan's on the other hand, “Abenomics” or not, has not managed to gain momentum (economy has shrunk in annualised terms last quarter by 6.8%). Inflation, thanks to a sales tax rise which came into effect in April, is not under control either with the country’s Consumer Prices Index (CPI) up 3.4% in July. That's well above the Bank of Japan’s target rate of 2%.

Given both countries are major importers of crude oil and natural gas, even a minor price rise has a major knock-on effect right from the point of importation to further down the consumer chain. At the moment, both are benefitting from a two-month decline in oil prices. Both PMs think they can work together towards the procurement of liquefied natural gas, according to an Indian source. The idea of two major importers strategising together sounds good, but concrete details are yet to be released.

If there was one hiccup, the two sides did not reach an agreement over the transfer of nuclear technology to India. Politics aside, Japan for its part is still grappling with the effects of Fukushima on all fronts - legal, natural and physical. Tepco, the company which operated the plant, is still in courts. The latest lawsuit - by workers demanding compensation - is a big one.

But not to digress, how did the men describe the summit themselves? For Modi, it was an “upgrade” in bilateral relations. For Abe, it was “a meeting of minds”. China would, and should, view it very differently. There is one not-so-mute point. Abe did not take any direct or indirect swipes at China, Modi (as mentioned above) was not so restrained. One wonders if in Modi’s quest for geopolitical rebalancing in Asia, would it serve in India well to improve relations with Japan and let them deteriorate with China?

That’s all the contemplation from Tokyo for the moment folks. The Oilholic is heading to Hong Kong, albeit briefly, after a gap of over a decade. Its a sunny day here at Narita Airport as one takes off. More soon, keep reading, keep it ‘crude’!

To follow The Oilholic on Twitter click here.
To follow The Oilholic on Google+ click here.
To follow The Oilholic on Forbes click here.

© Gaurav Sharma 2014. Photo 1: Tokyo Bay Waterfront. Photo 2: Narita International Aiport, Japan © Gaurav Sharma, September 2014.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Not that taut: Oil markets & geopolitical tension

The month of August has brought along a milestone for the Oilholics Synonymous Report, but let’s get going with crude matters for starters as oil markets continue to resist a risk premium driven spike.

The unfolding tragedy in Iraq, Libya’s troubles, Nigerian niggles and the fear of Ebola hitting exploration and production activity in West Africa, are more than enough to provide many paper traders with the pretext to go long and spook us all. Yet, the plentiful supply and stunted OECD demand scenario that’s carried over from last month has made geopolitical tension tolerable. As such its not percolating through to influence market sentiment in any appreciable fashion, bringing about a much needed price correction.

It wasn’t the news of US air strikes on ISIS that drove Brent down to a nine month low this week, rather the cautious mood of paper traders that did it. Among that lot were hedge fund guys n’ gals who burnt their fingers recently on long bets (that backfired spectacularly in July), and resisted going long as soon as news of the latest Iraqi flare-up surfaced, quite unlike last time.

According to ICE data, hedge funds and other money managers reduced net bullish bets on Brent futures to 97,351 contracts in the week to August 5; the lowest on books since February 4. Once bitten, twice shy and you all know why. Brent price is now comfortably within the Oilholic’s predicted price range for 2014.

Away from pricing, the other big news of course is about the megamerger of Kinder Morgan Inc (KMI), Kinder Morgan Energy Partners (KMP) and El Paso Pipeline Partners Operating (EPBO), into one entity. The $71 billion plus complicated acquisition would create the largest oil and gas infrastructure company in the US by some distance and the country’s third-largest corporation in the sector after ExxonMobil and Chevron.

Moody’s, which has suspended its ratings on the companies for the moment, says generally the ratings for KMP and its subsidiaries will be reviewed for downgrade, and the ratings for KMI and EPBO and their subsidiaries will be reviewed for upgrade.

Stuart Miller, Moody's Vice President and Senior Credit Officer, notes: "KMI's large portfolio of high-quality assets generates a stable and predictable level of cash flow which could support a strong investment grade rating. However, because of the high leverage along with a high dividend payout ratio, we expect the new Kinder Morgan to be weakly positioned with an investment grade rating."

Sticking with Moody’s, following Argentina’s default on paper, the agency has unsurprisingly changed its outlook on the country’s major companies from stable to negative. Those affected in the sector include YPF. However, Petrobras Argentina and Pan American Energy Argentina were spared a negative outlook given their subsidiary status and disconnect from headline Argentine sovereign risk.

Switching tack from ratings notes to a Reuters report, a recent one from the newswire noted that the volume of US crude exports to Canada now exceeds the export level of OPEC lightweight Ecuador. While the Oilholic remains unconvinced about US crude joining the global crude supply pool anytime soon, there’s no harm in a bit of legally permitted neighbourly help. Inflows and outflows between the countries even things out; though Canadian oil exports going the other way are, and have always been, higher.

On the subject of reports, here’s the Oilholic’s latest quip on Forbes regarding the demise of commodities trading at investment banks and another one on the crucial subject of furthering gender diversity in the oil and gas business

Finally, going back to where one began, it is time to say a big THANK YOU to all you readers out there for your encouragement, criticism, feedback, compliments (as applicable) and the time you make to read this blogger’s thoughts. Though ever grateful, one feels like reiterating the gratitude today as Google Analytics has confirmed that US readers have overtaken the Oilholic's ‘home’ readers as of last month.

It matters as this humble blog has moved from 50 local clicks in December 2009 to 148k global clicks (and counting) this year and its been one great journey. The US, UK and Norway are currently the top three countries in terms of pageviews in that order (see right), followed by China, Germany, Russia, Canada, France, India and Turkey completing the top ten. Traffic also continues to climb from Australia, Brazil, Benelux, Hong Kong, Japan and Ukraine; so onwards and upwards to new frontiers with your continuing support. Keep reading, keep it 'crude'!

To follow The Oilholic on Twitter click here.
To follow The Oilholic on Google+ click here.
To follow The Oilholic on Forbes click here.
To email: gaurav.sharma@oilholicssynonymous.com

© Gaurav Sharma 2014. Photo: Oil rig, USA © Shell. Graphics: Oilholics Synonymous Report, July 2014 clickstats © Google Analytics

Monday, June 17, 2013

The 2013 G8 summit, Syria & crude prices

There is a certain measure of positive symbolism in being here in Northern Ireland for the 2013 G8 summit. Who would have imagined when the Good Friday agreement was signed in 1998, that 15 years later the then sectarian strife-torn province would host the leaders of the eight leading industrialised nations for their annual shindig?

That point was not lost on US President Barack Obama, among the few who didn’t express apprehensions, when UK PM David Cameron announced the venue for the summit last year. Cameron wanted to send a message out to the world that Northern Ireland was open for business and based on what yours truly has seen and heard so far, that's certainly a view many share.
 
Addressing an audience of students in Belfast, Obama said, "Few years ago holding a summit of world leaders in Northern Ireland would have been unthinkable. That we are here today shows the progress made in the path to peace and prosperity [since 1998]."

"If you continue your courageous path towards permanent peace, and all the social and economic benefits that come with it, that won't just be good for you. It will be good for this entire island, for the United Kingdom, for Europe; and it will be good for the world," he added.

Here we all are in Belfast heading to a quaint old town called Enniskillen. Of course, the Oilholic won’t be making his way there in a style befitting a president, a prime minister or a gazillion TV anchors who have descended on Northern Ireland, but get there - he most certainly will - to examine the 'cruder' side of things.

It has barely been a year since the G8 minus Russia (of course) griped about rising oil prices and called on oil producing nations to up their production. "We encourage oil producing countries to increase their output to meet demand. We stand ready to call upon the International Energy Agency (IEA) to take appropriate action to ensure that the market is fully and timely supplied," the G7 said in a statement last August.

Of course since then, we’ve had the US 'Shale Gale', dissensions at OPEC and rising consumption of India and China according to the latest data. The smart money would be on the G7 component of the G8 not talking about anything crude, unless you include the geopolitical complications being caused by Syria, which to a certain extent is overshadowing a largely economic summit.

That wont be a shame because its not for politicians to fiddle with market mechanisms. Nonetheless, the Brent forward month futures touched a 10-week high close to US$107 a barrel on Monday before retreating. Despite a lull, if not a downturn, in OECD economic activity, the benchmark remains in three figures.

Syria's impact on oil markets is negligible, but a prolonged civil war there could affect other countries in the Middle East, worse still drag a few oil producers in. Yet a stalemate between Russian President Vladimir Putin and the West has already become apparent here at the G8. There will, as expected, be no agreement on Syria with the Russians supporting the Assad regime and the West warily fretting over whether or not to supply the Syrian rebels with arms.

Away from geopolitics and the G8, in an investment note to clients, analysts at investment bank Morgan Stanley said the spread between WTI and Brent crude will likely widen in the second half of 2013, with a Gulf Coast "oversupply driving the differential".

The banks notes, and the Oilholic quotes, "WTI-Brent may struggle to narrow below US$6-7 per barrel and likely needs to widen in 2H13 (second half 2013)." That’s all for the moment from Belfast folks, as the Oilholic heads to Enniskillen! In the interim, yours truly leaves you with a view of Belfast's City Hall. Keep reading, keep it 'crude'

To follow The Oilholic on Twitter click here.

© Gaurav Sharma 2013. Photo: City Hall, Belfast, Northern Ireland © Gaurav Sharma, June 17, 2013

Saturday, June 15, 2013

A Syrian muddle, Barclays on Brent & more

The Brent forward month futures contract for August spiked above US$106 per barrel in intraday trading on Friday at one point. Most analysts cited an escalation of the Syrian situation and the possibility of it morphing into a wider regional conflict as a reason for the 1%-plus spike. The trigger was Obama administration’s reluctant acknowledgement the previous evening of usage of chemical weapons in Syria. The Oilholic’s feedback suggests that more Europe-based supply-side market analysts regard a proactive US involvement in the Syrian muddle as a geopolitical game-changer than their American counterparts. There is already talk of Syria become as US-Russia proxy war.

Add to that Israel’s nervousness about securing its border, jumpiness in Jordon and behind the scenes manipulation of the Assad regime and Syria by Iran. In an investment note, analysts at Barclays have forecasted Brent to climb back to the Nelson figure of 111. Yet a deeper examination of what the bank’s analysts are saying would tell you that their take is not a reactive response to Syria.

In fact, Barclays cites supply constriction between OPEC members as a causative agent, specifically mentioning on-going problems in Nigeria, Libya and shipment concerns in Iraq. For what its worth, and appalling as it might well be, Syria's conflict is only being priced in by traders in passing in anticipation of a wider regional geopolitical explosion, which or may not happen.

Away from OPEC and Syria, the Sudan-South Sudan dispute reared its ugly head again this week. A BBC World Service report on Thursday said Sudan had alleged that rebels based in South Sudan attacked an oil pipeline and Diffra oilfield in the disputed Abyei region. The charge was denied by South Sudan and the rebels.
 
The news follows Sudan’s call for a blockade of South Sudan's oil from going through the former’s pipelines to export terminals to take effect within 60 days. The flow of oil only resumed in April. Both Sudan and the South are reliant on oil revenue, which accounted for 98% of South Sudan's budget. However, the two countries cannot agree how to divide the oil wealth of the former united state. Some 75% of the oil lies in the South, but all the pipelines…well run north.
 
As the geopolitical analysts get plenty of food for thought, BP’s latest Statistical Review of World Energy noted that global energy consumption grew by 1.8% in 2012, with China and India accounting for almost 90% of that growth. Saudi Arabia remained the world’s top producer with its output at 11.5 million barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd) followed by Russia at 10.6 million boepd. However, the US in third at 8.9 million boepd gave the “All hail shale” brigade plenty of thought. Especially, as BP noted that 2012 saw the largest single-year increase in US oil production ever in the history of the survey.
 
Moving on to corporate news, Fitch Ratings said Repsol's voluntary offer to re-purchase €3 billion of preference shares will increase the group's leverage, partially offsetting any benefit from the proceeds of its recent LNG assets divestment (revealed in March). This reduces the potential for an upgrade or Positive Outlook on the group's 'BBB-' rating in the near term, the agency added. Repsol's board voted in May to repurchase the preference shares partly with cash and partly with new debt.
 
Finally, Tullow Oil has won its legal battle, dating back to 2010, over tax payable on the sale of oilfields in Uganda. On Friday, the company said a UK court had ruled in favour of its indemnity claim for $313 million in its entirety (when the Uganda’s government demanded over $400 million in capital gains tax after Heritage Oil sold assets in the country to Tullow in a $1.45 billion deal).
 
Heritage said it would now evaluate its legal options and could launch an appeal. When the original deal between Heritage and Tullow was concluded, Tullow paid the Ugandan Revenue Authority $121.5 million – a third of the original $405 million tax demand – and put the remaining $283.5 million into an escrow account.
 
That’s all for the moment folks! The Oilholic has arrived in Belfast ahead of 2013 G8 Summit in Northern Ireland under the UK’s presidency, where Syria, despite the meeting being an economic forum, is bound to creep up on the World leaders’ agenda. As will energy-related matters. So keep reading, keep it ‘crude’!
 
To follow The Oilholic on Twitter click here.
 
 
© Gaurav Sharma 2013. Photo: Veneco Oil Platform, California, USA © Rich Reid / National Geographic.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Saudi oil minister & the Oilholic’s natter

Saudi Arabia’s oil minister Ali Al-Naimi said the global oil market remains well supplied, in response to a question from the Oilholic. Speaking here in Vienna, ahead of the closed session of oil ministers at the 163rd OPEC meeting, the kingpin said, “The supply-demand situation is balanced and the world oil market remains well supplied.”

Asked by a fellow scribe how he interpreted the current scenario. “Satisfactory” was the short response. Al-Naimi also said, “Enough has been said on shale. North American shale production adds to supply adequacy. Is it a bad thing? No. Does it enter into the geopolitical equation and hegemony? Yes of course. Geopolitics has evolved for decades along with the oil industry and will continue to. What’s new here?!” And that, dear readers, was that.

Despite being pressed for an answer several times, Al-Naimi declined to discuss the subject of choosing a successor to OPEC Secretary General Abdalla Salem El-Badri.
 
The Saudis are expected to battle it out with the Iranians for the largely symbolic role, but one that is nonetheless central to shaping OPEC policies and carries a lot of prestige. As in December, the Saudis are proposing Majid Munif, an economist and former representative to OPEC. Tehran wants its man Gholam-Hussein Nozari, a former Iranian oil minister, installed. Compromise candidate could be Iraq’s Thamir Ghadban.
 
The tussle between Iran and Saudi Arabia about the appointment has been simmering for a while and led to a stalemate in December. As a consequence, El-Badri’s term was extended. Anecdotal evidence suggests the Iranians, as usual, are being difficult.
More so, Al-Naimi appeared to the Oilholic to be fairly relaxed about the Shale ruckus, but the Iranians are worried about perceived oversupply. (Only the Nigerians appear to be jumpier than them on the subject of shale). Iran's oil exports, it must be noted, are at their lowest since 2010 in wake sanction over its nuclear programme.

Away from the tussle, Abdel Bari Ali Al-Arousi, oil minister of Libya and alternate President of the OPEC Conference, said the world oil demand growth forecast for 2013 is expected to increase by 0.8 million barrels per day (bpd).

Total non-OPEC supply has seen a slight upward adjustment to 1.0 million bpd for the year. “This situation is likely to continue through the third and into the fourth quarters as we head into the driving season. Our focus will remain on doing all we can to provide stability in the market. This stability will benefit all stakeholders and contribute to growth in the world economy. However, as we have repeatedly said, this is not a job for OPEC alone. Every stakeholder has a part to play in achieving this,” he added.

Rounding off this post, on the subject of hegemony, it always makes the Oilholic smirk and has done so for years, that the moment the scribes are let in - the first minister they rush for (yours truly included) is the man from Saudi Arabia. That says something about hegemony within OPEC. That's all for the moment from Vienna folks, updates throughout the day and the weekend! Keep reading, keep it 'crude'!

To follow The Oilholic on Twitter click here.

© Gaurav Sharma 2013. Saudi Arabia’s oil minister Ali Al-Naimi speaking at the 163rd OPEC meeting of ministers © Gaurav Sharma, May 31, 2013.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A historical perspective on oil and world power

Throughout his illustrious career, academic Peter Randon Odell enriched the available oil and gas market commentary and analysis of his time, writing close to 20 books and numerous research papers. In 1970, Odell wrote arguably one of his most authoritative works on the subject – Oil and World Power. He went on to update and revise it no less than eight times with the last imprint reaching bookshelves in 1986.

After over two decades, the old master’s insight is available once again via a Routledge reprint, under its Routledge Revivals Initiative which aims to re-print academic works that have long been unavailable. While the publisher’s hunt for scholarly reprints is rewinding the clock back to the last 120 years, the Oilholic is not the least bit surprised that Odell’s most popular work is among the first to roll off Routledge’s printing presses for 2013 under the Revivals Initiative.

It was Odell who was among the first to catalogue the oil industry’s commercial clout and pragmatically noted in this book that the oil and gas business was one which no country could do without given the inextricable link between industrialisation and fossil fuels.

Above anything else, this reprinted book offers Odell’s insight on the oil and gas business as it had evolved up and until the 1980s, pre-dating the corporate birth of ExxonMobil, the collapse of the Soviet Union, America’s shale bonanza and resource nationalism to the extent we see today. This in itself makes the reprint of Oil and World Power invaluable.

The reader gets a glimpse of energy hegemony as it was up and until the 1980s and Odell’s insight on issues of the day. From OPEC soundbites to the anxieties of consuming nations, from the decline of International Oil Companies (IOCs) to the rise of National Oil Companies (NOCs) – it’s all there, coupled with changing patterns of oil supply and the dramatic fall in oil prices in 1986.

Yet, Odell’s conclusions in this book, of just over 300 pages split by 11 chapters, sound eerily similar; a sort of a forerunner to what industry commentators are mulling over in this day and age. In fact, the deep links, which he refers to in this book, between oil and gas extraction, conflict, resource nationalism, global politics and economic prowess are as entrenched as ever.

After discussing the bigger picture, the author goes on to offer a fair bit of forward-thinking conjecture on the relationship between the oil and gas business and economic development. There are also subtle hints at the resource curse hypothesis – a discussion which was hardly mainstream in the 1980s but is hotly debated these days.

This reprint bears testimony to the brilliance of Odell in tacking such issues head on. It would be of immense value to students of energy economics, industrial studies, international development, geopolitics and political hegemony. But above all, those looking to probe the history of the oil and gas business must certainly reach out for this engaging volume. 

To follow The Oilholic on Twitter click here.

 
© Gaurav Sharma 2013. Photo: Front Cover – Oil and World Power © Routledge

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

An arduously researched book on ‘crude’ Russia

When looking up written material on the Russian oil and gas industry, you are (more often than not) likely to encounter clich├ęs or exaggerations. Some would discuss chaos in wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the rise of the oligarchs as a typical “Russian” episode of corruption and greed – yet fail to address the underlying causes that led to it. Others would indulge in an all too familiar Russia bashing exercise without concrete articulation. Amidst a cacophony of mediocre analysis, academic Thane Gustafson’s splendid work – Wheel of Fortune: The Battle for Oil and Power in Russia – not only breaks the mould but smashes it to pieces. This weighty, arduously researched book of just under 700 pages split by 13 chapters does justice to the art of scrutiny when it comes to examining this complex oil and gas exporting jurisdiction; a rival of Saudi Arabia for the position of the world’s largest producer and exporter of oil.
 
It is about power, it is about money, it is about politics but turning page after page, you would realise Gustafson is subtly pointing out that it is a battle for Russia’s ‘crude’ soul. In order to substantiate his arguments, the book is full of views of commentators, maps, charts and tables and over 100 pages of footnotes. The narrative switches seamlessly from discussing historical facts to the choices Russia’s political classes and the country’s oil industry face in this day and age.
 
The complex relationship between state and industry, from the Yeltsin era to Putin’s rise is well documented and in some detail along with an analysis of what it means and where it could lead. In a book that the Oilholic perceives as the complete package on the subject, it is hard to pick favourite passages – but two chapters stood out in particular.
 
Early on in the narrative, Gustafson charts the birth of Russian oil majors Lukoil, Surgutneftegaz and Yukos (and the latter’s dismembering too). Late on in the book, the author examines Russia’s (current) accidental oil champion Rosneft. Both passages not only sum up the fortunes of Russian companies and how they have evolved (or in Yukos’ case faced corporate extinction) but also sum up prevailing attitudes within the Kremlin.
 
What’s more, as crude oil becomes harder and more expensive to extract and Russian production dwindles, Gustafson warns that the country’s current level of dependence on revenue from oil is unsustainable and that it simply must diversify.
 
Overall, the Oilholic is inclined to feel that this book is one of the most authoritative work on Russia and its oil industry, a well balanced critique with substantiated arguments and one which someone interested in geopolitics would appreciate as much as an enthusiast of energy economics.
 
This blogger is happy to recommend Wheel of Fortune to readers interested in Russia, the oil and gas business, geopolitics, economics, current affairs and last but certainly not the least – those seeking a general interest non-fiction book on a subject they haven’t visited before. As for the story seekers, given that it’s Russia, Gustafson has more that few tales to narrate all right, but fiction they aren’t. Fascinating and brilliantly written they most certainly are!
 
To follow The Oilholic on Twitter click here.
 
To email: gaurav.sharma@oilholicssynonymous.com

© Gaurav Sharma 2013. Photo: Front cover - Wheel of Fortune: The Battle for Oil and Power in Russia © Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Puts n’ calls, Russia ‘peaking’ & Peking’s shale

Oil market volatility continues unabated indicative of the barmy nature of the world we live in. On January 25, the Brent forward month futures contract spiked above US$113. If the day's intraday price of US$113.46 is used as a cut-off point, then it has risen by 4.3% since Christmas Eve. If you ask what has changed in a month? Well not much! The Algerian terror strike, despite the tragic nature of events, does not fundamentally alter the geopolitical risk premium for 2013.

In fact, many commentators think the risk premium remains broadly neutral and hinged on the question whether or not Iran flares-up. So is a US$113-plus Brent price merited? Not one jot! If you took such a price-level at face value, then yours would be a hugely optimistic view of the global economy, one that it does not merit on the basis of economic survey data.
 
In an interesting note, Ole Hansen, Head of Commodity Strategy at Saxo Bank, gently nudges observers in the direction of examining the put/call ratio. For those who don’t know, in layman terms the ratio measures mass psychology amongst market participants. It is the trading volume of put options divided by the trading volume of call options. (See graph above courtesy of Saxo Bank. Click image to enlarge)
 
When the ratio is relatively high, this means the trading community or shall we say the majority in the trading community expect bearish trends. When the ratio is relatively low, they’re heading-up a bullish path.
 
Hansen observes: “The most popular traded strikes over the five trading days (to January 23) are evenly split between puts and calls. The most traded has been the June 13 Call strike 115 (last US$ 3.13 per barrel), April 13 Call 120 (US$0.61), April 13 Put 100 (US$0.56) and June 13 Put 95 (US$1.32). The hedging of a potential geopolitical spike has been seen through the buying of June 13 Call 130, last traded at US$0.54/barrel.”
 
The Oilholic feels it is prudent to point out that tracking the weekly volume of market puts and calls is a method of gauging the sentiments of majority of traders. Overall, the market can, in the right circumstances, prove a majority of traders wrong. So let’s see how things unfold. Meanwhile, the CME Group said on January 24 that the NYMEX March Brent Crude had made it to the next target of US$112.90/113.29 and topped it, but the failure to break this month’s high "signals weakness in the days to come."
 
The  group also announced a record in daily trading volume for its NYMEX Brent futures contract as trading volumes, using January 18 as a cut-off point, jumped to 30,250 contracts; a 38% increase over the previous record of 21,997 set on August 8, 2012.
 
From the crude oil market to the stock market, where ExxonMobil finally got back its position of being the most valuable publicly traded company on January 25! Apple grabbed the top spot in 2011 from ExxonMobil which the latter had held since 2005. Yours truly does not have shares in either company, but on the basis of sheer consistency in corporate performance, overall value as a creator of jobs and a general contribution to the global economy, one would vote for the oil giant any day over an electronic gadgets manufacturer (Sorry, Apple fans if you feel the Oilholic is oversimplifying the argument).
 
Switching tack to the macro picture, Fitch Ratings says Russian oil production will probably peak in the next few years as gains from new oilfields are offset by falling output from brownfield sites. In a statement on January 22, the ratings agency said production gains that Russia achieved over the last decade were mainly driven by intensive application of new technology, in particular horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing applied to Western Siberian brownfields on a massive scale.
 
"This allowed oil companies to tap previously unreachable reservoirs and dramatically reverse declining production rates at these fields, some of which have been producing oil for several decades. In addition, Russia saw successful launches of several new production areas, including Rosneft's large Eastern Siberian Vankor field in 2009," Fitch notes.
 
However, Fitch says the biggest potential gains from new technology have now been mostly achieved. The latest production figures from the Russian Ministry of Energy show that total crude oil production in the country increased by 1.3% in 2012 to 518 million tons. Russian refinery volumes increased by 4.5% to 266 million tons while exports dropped by 1% to 239 million tons. Russian oil production has increased rapidly from a low of 303 million tons in 1996.
 
"Greenfields are located in inhospitable and remote places and projects therefore require large amounts of capital. We believe oil prices would need to remain above US$100 per barrel and the Russian government would need to provide tax incentives for oil companies to invest in additional Eastern Siberian production," Fitch says.
 
A notable exception is the Caspian Sea shelf where Lukoil, Russia’s second largest oil company, is progressing with its exploration and production programme. The ratings agency does see potential for more joint ventures between Russian and international oil companies in exploring the Russian continental shelf. No doubt, the needs must paradigm, which is very visible elsewhere in the ‘crude’ world, is applicable to the Russians as well.
 
On the very same day as Fitch raised the possibility of Russian production peaking, Peking announced a massive capital spending drive towards shale exploration. Reuters reported that China intends to start its own shale gale as the country’s Ministry of Land and Resources issued exploration rights for 19 shale prospection blocks to 16 firms. Local media suggests most of the exploration rights pertain to shale gas exploration with the 16 firms pledging US$2 billion towards the move.

On the subject of shale and before the news arrived from China, IHS Vice Chairman Daniel Yergin told the World Economic Forum  in Davos that major unconventional opportunities are being identified around the world. "Our research indicates that the shale resource base in China may be larger than in the USA, and we note prospects elsewhere," he added.
 
However, both the Oilholic and the industry veteran and founder of IHS CERA agree that the circumstances which led to and promoted the development of unconventional sources in the USA differ in important aspects from other parts of the world.

“It is still very early days and we believe that it will take several years before significant amounts of unconventional oil and gas begin to appear in other regions,” Yergin said. In fact, the US is benefitting in more ways than one if IHS’ new report Energy and the New Global Industrial Landscape: A Tectonic Shift is to be believed.

In it, IHS forecasts that the "direct, indirect and induced effects" of the surge in nonconventional oil and gas extraction have already added 1.7 million jobs to the US jobs market with 3 million expected by 2020. Furthermore, the surge has also added US$62 billion to federal and state government coffers in 2012 with US$111 billion expected by 2020. (See bar chart above courtesy of IHS. Click image to enlarge)
 
IHS also predicts that non-OPEC supply growth in 2013 will be 1.1 million barrels per day – larger than the growth in global demand – which has happened only four times since 1986. Leading this non-OPEC growth is indeed the surge in unconventional oil in the USA. The report does warn, however, that increases in non-OPEC supply elsewhere in the world could be subject to what has proved to be a recurrent “history of disappointment.”
 
That’s all for the moment folks! Keep reading, keep it ‘crude’!
 
To follow The Oilholic on Twitter click here.
 
© Gaurav Sharma 2013. Graph: Brent Crude – Put/Call ratio © Saxo Bank, Photo: Russian jerry pump jacks © Lukoil, Bar Chart: US jobs growth projection in the unconventional oil & gas sector © IHS 2013.

Friday, January 18, 2013

On finite resources and China’s urges

We constantly debate about the world’s finite and fast depleting natural resources; that everything from fossil fuel to farmable acreage is in short supply. Some often take the line that the quest for mineral wealth would be a fight to the death. Others, like academic Dambisa Moyo take a more pragmatic line on resource scarcity and rationally analyse what is at stake as she has done in her latest book Winner Take All: China’s race for resources and what it means for us.

That the Chinese are in town for more than just a slice of the natural resources cake is well documented. Yet, instead of crying ‘wolf’, Moyo sequentially dissects and offers highly readable conjecture on how China is leading the global race for natural resources be it via their national oil companies, mergers, asset acquisitions, lobbying or political leverage on an international scale.

While cleverly watching out for their interests, the author explains, in this book of just over 250 pages split by two parts containing 10 chapters, that the Chinese are neck-deep in a global resources rush but not necessarily the causative agents of perceived resource scarcity.

However, that they are the dominant players in a high stakes hunt for commodities from Africa to Latin America is unmistakable. For good measure and as to be expected of a book of this nature, the author has examined a variety of tangents hurled around in a resource security debate. The Dutch disease, geopolitics, risk premium in commodities prices, resource curse hypothesis have all been visited versus the Chinese quest by Moyo.

The Oilholic found her arguments on the subject to be neither alarmist nor populist. Rather, she has done something commendable which is examine how we got to this point in the resources debate, the operations of commodity markets and the geopolitical shifts we have seen rather than sensationalise the subject matter. China, the author opines may be leading the race for resources, but is by no means the only hungry horse in town.

Overall, it is a very decent book and well worth reading given its relevance and currency in today’s world. The Oilholic would be happy recommend it to commodities traders, those interested in international affairs, geopolitics, financial news and resource economics. Finally, those who have made a career out of future projections would find it very well worth their while to absorb it from cover to cover.

To follow The Oilholic on Twitter click here. 

© Gaurav Sharma 2013. Photo: Front cover - Winner Take All © Allen Lane / Penguin Group UK.