Schiff: Get out of the U.S. Dollar NOW

Peter Schiff: Get out of the U.S. Dollar NOW


Traders betting oil will hit $200 a barrel in 2008

Traders betting oil will hit $200 a barrel in 2008

Rocky Mountain News
January 12, 2008


The fastest-growing bet in the oil market these days is that the price of crude will double to $200 a barrel by the end of the year.

Options to buy oil for $200 on the New York Mercantile Exchange rose tenfold in the past two months to 5,533 contracts, a record increase for any similar period. The contracts, the cheapest way to speculate in energy markets, have appreciated 36 percent since early December as crude futures reached a record $100.09 on Jan. 3.

While analysts at Merrill Lynch & Co. and UBS AG say the slowing U.S. economy will lead to the biggest drop in prices since 2001, the options show that some traders expect oil to rise for a seventh straight year.

Demand will increase 2.5 percent in 2008, according to the International Energy Agency.

U.S. inventories fell to a three-year low Dec. 28.

Production from Mexico is declining, and Saudi Arabia is behind schedule in opening its newest field.

“One hundred dollars a barrel is actually 14.9 cents a cup, so we’re still talking about oil being remarkably cheap,” said Matthew R. Simmons, chairman of Simmons & Co. International, a Houston-based investment bank that focuses on energy.

Inventories “are tight as a drum, and I don’t see how we get out of this box,” he said in a Bloomberg News television interview last week. “Demand clearly isn’t starting to slow down.”

World consumption will rise to 87.8 million barrels a day this year, 2.1 million more than in 2007, or an increase equal to what Nigeria supplies, according to the Paris-based IEA, an adviser to oil-consuming nations. Demand from China alone will increase 5.7 percent to 8 million barrels a day as imports expand to support an economy that’s likely to grow 11 percent, the IEA said.

Oil suppliers are straining to increase production. Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest exporter, said last week that the 500,000-barrel-a-day Khursaniyah oilfield missed a December start date. Brazil’s Tupi field, the second-largest find of the past two decades, lies more than five miles below the ocean surface and will take at least five years to develop.

Petroleos Mexicanos, Mexico’s state oil monopoly, suffered a three-year, 40 percent decline at its Cantarell field, the world’s third-largest. Fighting in Nigeria has reduced production 11 percent since December 2005 to 2.18 million barrels a day, according to Bloomberg.

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