Following this week’s news on a two year high for the Brent crude oil, Richard King, Trading Manager for Inprova Energy, discusses the current impact of oil price volatility on company energy bills worldwide.
Brent crude oil prices hit a two-year high of more than $58 a barrel on Monday 25 September. Although prices have since reduced slightly, analysts don’t expect prices to fall back.
Outlook for oil prices
Oil price increases have been largely driven by cutbacks in supply from the oil exporting cartel OPEC. Market experts predict that OPEC will continue its deal to cut production beyond March 2018 as part of its strategy to rebalance oversupply in the global oil market. Market analysts expect the oil price to be within the range of $55 to $60 a barrel for the remainder of the year, with potential for higher levels in 2018.
In a further boost to recovering oil prices, US producers are struggling to fill the supply gap, and the independence referendum in Kurdistan has the potential to disrupt Middle East oil supplies due to the Iraqi government’s call to boycott Kurdish supplies. Mounting political tensions between North Korea and the USA could also be a bullish force.
Impact on energy prices
This is having a knock-on effect on UK business energy market prices. Both gas and electricity contracts for delivery in the next few months have posted significant gains of 2-3%. This has reversed recent decreases in energy prices, linked to the currency improvements for Sterling against both the US dollar and the Euro.
Energy market volatility
Oil prices are firmly linked to wholesale energy prices, which will, undoubtedly, increase energy market volatility in future months. In addition, as we head into winter and uncertain weather conditions, and continue to face energy supply reliability problems from continental Europe, further price swings are inevitable.
Such volatility is becoming the new norm. During the past 12 months there was a 45% price swing in the wholesale power market, which was more than twice as volatile as the average movement of the five years prior.
Smarter energy purchasing
While overall electricity and gas commodity prices remain well below the levels reached in 2014, the sizeable commodity price movements underline the imperative of getting timing right when purchasing energy.
Flexible procurement strategies can be less risky than fixed purchasing because there is the facility to buy energy little and often when wholesale prices are favourable, rather than gambling that the prices are best on the day that you fix your purchase. There is also the facility to take advantage of forward prices, which are currently very attractive beyond 2018.
Above all, it is imperative for energy buyers to manage their energy purchasing within a robust risk management strategy, which will set price limits and guard against buying at the top of the market – helping to counter market uncertainty.