Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Oil: Another China play

Some said it was the USD holding up the oil price. Now the USD has retraced to pre-crisis levels vs. other major currencies and the price of oil has not fallen.

As it turns out, China imports are a large catalyst in demand for crude oil.

“China’s growing reliance on seaborne crude oil imports will set the tone of the tanker market for the coming decade,” Poten said in a report to clients, quoted by Bloomberg. “China’s expanding middle class, strategic stockpiling and complex refining capacity ensure that it will continue to be a large ship, crude oil story.”

What is strange is that overall world demand is down, but since China is buying, prices are up. This is somewhat understandable because 50% of the oil futures contracts traded are for speculation. So it is a self feeding machine.

In any case, based on this information I will be looking for an acceptable exit point for my SCO position. I cannot invest with 80% confidence when I see I am fighting the Chinese stimulus investment in oil consumption. I will need to wait to see lending decline prior to taking such a position again.

"China’s crude oil imports may reach an all-time high this year as an economic recovery spurs demand for fuels, data from China National Petroleum Corp. showed on Feb. 4. The Chinese economy, which expanded at the fastest pace in the fourth quarter since 2007, will grow four times faster than the U.S. in 2010, the United Nations said in December.

Chinese charterers accounted for about 30 percent of VLCC spot fixture activity this year, up from below 5 percent a decade earlier, Poten said."