Lock, Stock a Barrel: The Return of Contango? (July 18, 2014)
The swirl of political events and policy changes over the past few weeks has churned out mixed results for the crude oil markets. At this point it is difficult to characterize the state of the market as anything but flux. The persistence of geopolitical unrest – Ukraine v. Russia, Iraq v. Iraq, and Israel v. Gaza – has supported overall price levels above near-term historical averages. But, crude oil price benchmarks that typically move in tandem, diverged this week. Perhaps eclipsing the shaky political climate, infrastructure developments and policy changes have, at least for the short-term, apparently decoupled the US crude oil benchmark, West Texas Intermediate (WTI), and its European counterpart, Brent, in potentially significant ways. While it is too soon to say whether this will be sustained, this development could raise some interesting prospects for the tanker market..