Power and politics – how global issues are affecting energy prices

All eyes will be on Vienna, on June 20-21, as The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) will host its 7th International Seminar at the Imperial Hofburg Palace.

Discussions between oil industry stakeholders will focus on reinforcing OPEC’s longstanding commitment to strive towards a secure and stable market in support of a healthy global economy.

As things stand, the oil market is anything but stable and this is reflected in energy prices affecting consumers in the UK, which are currently at a level higher than anywhere else in Europe.

In the energy market, there is a direct correlation between oil prices – over $80 a barrel at one stage last month – and the amount business consumers and homeowners pay for their fuel.

The mood in the room in Vienna could play a vital role in helping to calm traders’ nerves and enable the market to weather the “perfect storm” caused by a combination of geopolitical issues, safety concerns and diminished storage supplies, a summary of which can be found below.

So, should businesses stick or twist when it comes to procuring energy before the great and the good of the oil industry convene in the Austrian capital?

For those customers looking to make decisions on future pricing, it’s a tough call. There is more than enough evidence from historic pricing to indicate the current bullish run will come to an end, but the key is determining when.

If talks go well and OPEC agrees to remove some of the current production cuts, then prices, which have enjoyed a brief lull in recent days, could continue to come down. But if that fails to happen, they could easily rise again.

Knowing when to fix a price – and for how long – is one of the key pillars of energy management and we find that a proactive approach pays dividends.

If you would like to talk to one of our energy consultants and get some specialist advice on energy procurement and the other services we offer, please get in touch on, 01225-867722.

The Perfect Storm – why the oil industry has got energy users over a barrel

Red alert: The newly re-elected Venezuelan government appears intent on continuing its path towards a socialist autocracy and therefore runs the risk of reduced foreign investment and the application of stringent economic sanctions. Venezuela is one of the world’s top 10 largest oil producers.

Trumped: After November 4, the US will reimpose sanctions on Iran’s oil exports, as a result of its immediate withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal. Iran currently contributes roughly 3.8 million of the 98 million barrels of oil produced daily worldwide. Most energy experts say that a revival of American sanctions on banks and other companies that do business with Iran could reduce Iranian production and exports by at least 10 to 15 per cent, and that drop could take six months or more to be felt. Either way, it’s very unsettling for the oil price markets.

Poles apart: Poland’s state-owned oil and natural gas company signed a five-year deal in November to import liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the United States. The deal was signed as Poland and the rest of eastern Europe work to dramatically reduce their dependence on pipeline-delivered gas from Russia. Traders are anxiously waiting by to see how Russia reacts.

Rough times: Continued outage problems with the main North Sea gas pipeline that supplies gas from Norway into the UK are a worry. One shutdown in December, for example, sent oil prices soaring. Falling storage capacity for natural gas has left UK supplies increasingly susceptible to short-term outages, with the shutdown of Centrica’s Rough storage site, the country’s largest facility, making the Uk even more reliant on imports from Norway.

Cracks appearing: Nuclear power is a mainstay of UK power generation, picking up around 20 per cent of the UK’s demand so ongoing safety issues at Hunterston B, and with other plants of a similar age, have been most unwelcome for all concerned. There are even calls for the nuclear reactor’s permanent shutdown due to cracks in the graphite core of the structure.