Wednesday 14 November 2018

The Punt: Anyone missing their crude oil?

One of the stories of the last year has been the collapse in oil prices. Photo: Bloomberg
One of the stories of the last year has been the collapse in oil prices. Photo: Bloomberg

Ever hear the one about the missing oil? The Punt has heard a few of these over the years - be it phantom tankers roaming the high seas or oil fields apparently not connected to anything. In any case, phantom oil has raised its head yet again.

One of the stories of the last year has been the collapse in oil prices.

The plunge has been put down to many things, one of which is the glut in supply in an already flooded market.

The scale of the excess supply has prompted many analysts to suggest it will be years before oil prices start to rebound in a meaningful way.

But is that really the case? A story in 'The Wall Street Journal' suggests it may not be. According to the Journal, there were 800,000 barrels of oil a day unaccounted for by the International Energy Agency (IEA) last year. The IEA data is considered the benchmark when it comes to supply and demand.

Do these excess barrels exist? Nobody really knows. They could be stored in China or Russia, for example. Or they could be an accounting error and may not exist at all.

Whatever the answer, it is vital that the IEA finds out. Take 800,000 barrels a day out of excess supply, and the market becomes a good bit tighter pretty quickly. Their existence may dictate whether oil prices can recover more quickly than might have been expected otherwise.

We look forward to hearing the conspiracy theories that explain this.

Making right connections

ConnectIreland, a jobs for Ireland programme dreamed up in the teeth of the recession, has been recognised by the World Media Awards, winning a gong alongside global brands like Lexus, Airbnb and Microsoft.

ConnectIreland picked up the award for its Community Action Plan in the Foreign Direct Investment and Economic Development category, which gave the team a perfect start to St Patrick's Day, according to ConnectIreland CEO Joanna Murphy. The award is designed to recognise effectiveness in targeting hard-to-reach investors and businesses, to promote investment and trade.

ConnectIreland is credited with helping to forster up to 2,000 jobs at 70 companies in Ireland since it was set up.

The simple idea behind ConnectIreland was to ask ordinary people to make the first move in attracting foreign direct investment, by offering rewards from the Government of potentially up to €150,000 to anyone who refers a company that may be considering opening up here to the team.

Bloomberg's Trudeau gush

After ditching plans to launch his own presidential election campaign US billionaire Michael Bloomberg has finally endorsed a politician he admires.

Moderate republicans in particular have been hoping to get the nod from Bloomberg since he opted not to run, and yesterday the former New York mayor and founder of the eponymous business information service finally backed a candidate.

Unfortunately for America, he got behind Canada's Justin Trudeau.

"Last year, Canadian voters elected an energetic and pragmatic prime minister," Bloomberg wrote in an article on his own news service.

"He campaigned on a platform of inclusion and tolerance, focusing on the need to bring people together to solve problems," he wrote, before going on to favourably compare the youthful Trudea, inset, to the late John F Kennedy.

Not that he was really writing about Canada.

"Strong economic leadership, as Trudeau seems to understand, does not begin with protectionist or socialist policies that vilify scapegoats.

"It begins with uniting people around a hopeful and realistic vision that can be fulfilled if government works in concert with markets," said Bloomberg.

Now we wonder who he could possibly mean?

Irish Independent

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