Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Oil Prices and Hurricanes

Last week OPEC Secretary-General Abdalla El-Badri made some odd comments on the relationship between the gasoline and oil markets.

He was quoted as saying that oil prices were moving higher because of U.S. refinery downtime. This from the Energy Roundup Aug. 28:

Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries Secretary General Abdalla Salem el-Badri said Tuesday that brimming oil stock levels are a signal the market doesn’t need more oil and prices are being kept high by U.S. refinery woes. “We see there’s no reason for a higher price because there’s enough oil in the market,” he told Dow Jones Newswires in an interview.

But El-Badri, who is on a four-day trip to Angola to discuss a quota with OPEC’s newest member, said that if the group put more oil into the market it would only end up in stocks as U.S. refinery glitches are keeping a lid on demand. “If you add more crude into the market, the crude will not go to refineries because refineries cannot handle it, it will go into stocks,” he said. He added that there would be a clearer picture of the market towards the end of the year.

This sounded like a man with oil to sell and a price to maintain.
These comments were so strange that they got my antennae twitching.

Could it be that some major players were caught long oil in the run-up to it's high of $78.77?
If so the range between $74 and $79 would be where they made their bets. Look for a move to, at minimum, the midpoint, $76.50, on any news, excuse, whatever and then look out below.

This note from Jeff Masters Wunderblog may set up the excuse:

98L is nearly stationary, and it will be at least six days before it will threaten the Lesser Antilles Islands. A strong trough of low pressure will pass north of 98L Tuesday and Wednesday, which could impart a more northwesterly motion to the storm.