Storms of a Different Nature
Batten down the hatches and get ready to hang on as the energy complex continues to get battered around by a multitude of storms. Of course we are talking about storms of different natures. The geo-political storms that are rocking North Africa and moving towards the Middle East may gain momentum as Egyptian opposition leaders are calling for a "Million Man March." There is no word on whether or not Louis Farrakhan is seeking royalties. New reports show that Jordon's King Abdullah II has dismissed his government in an attempt to ward off the type of political discontent that has rocked Egypt and another staunch U.S. ally is in turmoil.
Back here at home, the Mid-West gets ready to be rocked by a winter storm of historic proportions and a potential record snowfall in Chicago. It's either an energies trader worst nightmare or a golden opportunity.
Bloomberg News is reporting that, "Egypt deployed troops to help protect the SuMed pipeline transporting crude alongside the Suez Canal, while the facility's own guards doubled their number of sentry posts, an official with knowledge of the build-up said. The military's deployment began Jan. 28, said the official, who declined to identify himself because of the sensitivity of the security operation. SuMed added 16 guard posts to the 14 it already had in place along the 360-kilometer (220-mile) pipeline, the official said today."
A disruption of supply from this is a concern as it is feared that the opposition may take a page out of the playbook from Nigeria or Iraq who obviously thought it was a good idea to blow up a pipeline to get your point across. How real those fears are is impossible to tell but they are fear regardless.
Reuter's News reports that, "The situation in oil markets is not yet an emergency," the head of the International Energy Agency said on Tuesday, a day after oil prices breached through $100 per barrel on unrest in Egypt. "It is not an emergency now," Nobuo Tanaka told Reuters. "If a disruption happens, we should act," he added, referring to both IEA and OPEC. He said the Suez Canal and the SuMed pipeline were operating normally and added that even if the Suez Canal closed due to unrest in Egypt, it would not create a physical shortage in the market but only boost shipping costs due to longer journeys."
Other fears center on whether or not some ships may try to avoid the Suez Cannel all together. The IEA says that closure of the Suez Canal and SuMed Pipeline would add 6,000 miles of transit around the continent of Africa. That would take an additional 8 to 10 days for oil to reach Europe. Because of this, the Brent Crude has gone to over $100 a barrel and the West Texas Intermediate may not be too far behind.
We can talk about the oil going through the Suez Cannel or the oil that travels through the SuMed pipeline, but that would be missing the larger picture of course. The IEA has said that this oil could be easily made up for. The real point of this is where this spreads. The uprising that began in Tunisia is spreading like wildfire throughout the region. Now the King of Jordan has dismissed his government and we have already seen how that has worked for Hosni Mubarak. This should add to tensions as well as price.
The Midwest region in the U.S. could be buried. The impending doomsday snow and cold forecasts are pumping up the natural gas market. The Midwest cash market spiked as expectations of demand are rising. Gas is breaking out to a higher range.