The benchmark oil price is at $67 this morning, another 'record high' for the CNN pundits to attribute to anything from pipeline explosions to chaffinch migration patterns; but why is this making the headlines day after day?
$67 is nothing special, it's up 30% on last year but it's still a long way off the record high of $92 (in 2004 US dollars) in 1980.
And back then, there wasn't much you could do about it. The first financial energy risk transaction – an oil-index swap between Cathay Pacific and Koch Industries through Chase Manhattan – wasn't until 1986. Now, 20 years later, banks in Asia cannot hire people fast enough to structure and sell products the market wants. Independently, three leading energy bankers told Asia Risk of hiring bottlenecks and skill shortages in the region right now – a very good time for anyone with energy or commodities experience to step up, especially given the amazing breadth of work which constitutes 'energy': JP Morgan, for example, is working on new commodity baskets – copper, WTI crude and agricultural products – which will make for interesting reading in future issue of the magazine. Broker TFS is working on freight derivatives, coal and weather in Australia, taking advantage of natural synergies between the markets to help corporates and utilities manage their risk. In Hong Kong and Singapore, banks are working on emissions-trading products, energy equity baskets and energy volatility products. This is just a tiny slice of what's going on today, and we'll be bringing you the most up-to-date stories on their progress over the coming months.
In the meantime, if you're a banker with energy experience, get yourself over to Asia. And if you're a corporation or investor wanting some energy advice, you're going to have to go out and find it – this market is a little short-staffed to come and find you right now.