The phenomenon of "floating storage", which has been brought about by a huge over-supply of global tanker capacity and unusual market conditions, is just one example of the multitude of ways in which a small group of private, mostly Swiss-based companies have become adept at turning vast profits from the closed and often murky world of independent oil trading.
The resulting profit can be anything between 15 and 20 per cent – tens of millions of dollars – even after the cost of hiring a tanker is deducted.
Transcripts and taped conversations of actions that took place in 2007, included in the commission’s case, reveal the secretive workings of high-frequency trading, a fast-growing Wall Street business that is suddenly drawing scrutiny in Washington. Critics say this high-speed form of computerized trading, which is used in a wide range of financial markets, enables its practitioners to profit at other investors’ expense.
The world is heading for a catastrophic energy crunch that could cripple a global economic recovery because most of the major oil fields in the world have passed their peak production, a leading energy economist has warned.
Higher oil prices brought on by a rapid increase in demand and a stagnation, or even decline, in supply could blow any recovery off course, said Dr Fatih Birol, the chief economist at the respected International Energy Agency (IEA) in Paris, which is charged with the task of assessing future energy supplies by OECD countries.
The chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission signaled Tuesday that his agency is likely to limit financial speculators' ability to drive up prices for oil and other fuels.
Excessive speculation, suggested CFTC chief Gary Gensler, drove the price of oil to a record $147 a barrel a year ago, making it unnecessarily more expensive for Americans to heat their homes and fuel their cars.
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