Crude Oil

Oil Price Manipulation Awakens Libor, Enron Ghosts

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Last July, we warned you that oil prices could potentially be manipulated in similar fashion to the London Interbank Offered Rate (Libor), and now a recent raid of major oil companies highlights this growing danger to the $3.4 trillion-a-year crude market.

The European Commission last week stormed the offices of Royal Dutch Shell PLC (NYSE ADR: RDS.A, RDS.B), BP PLC ( NYSE ADR: BP), and Statoil ASA (NYSE ADR: STO) as part of the ongoing investigation to find out whether companies are manipulating oil prices and, if so, how long it has been going on and the possible ramifications.

"The commission has concerns that the companies may have colluded in reporting distorted prices to a price reporting agency (PRA) to manipulate the published prices for a number of oil and biofuel products," the EC said in a statement.

Besides major oil companies, big banks are active in the energy market and would likely benefit from any manipulation, David Frenk, director of research at the financial reform group Better Markets and a former commodities analyst, told CNN.

The ordeal has brought back memories not only of last year's Libor scandal but also of the actions taken 12 years ago by Enron to control energy prices.

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Frack or Fail: Is It Time For California's Liberals to Go?

California is in a LOT of trouble financially. Cities are going under and the state can't balance its budget. It also has almost half a trillion in state pensions to fund and revenue is drying up.
But there is one way out: Tap the largest oil and gas play in the Lower 48.
The question is, whether this left leaning state crowded with special interests like the Sierra Club will actually let oil services companies begin to start fracking on state land.
In our inaugural Money Morning Fight Club brawl, Frank Marchant and Garrett Baldwin square off on this contentious issue. The best part is we are asking you to turn in your scorecard and pick the winner at the end.
So let's get ready to rumble...

Why the "Death of Peak Oil" Still Won't Mean Cheap Oil

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Today (Wednesday) an analyst from Citigroup became the latest lemming to declare the death of peak oil.

In a report entitled "The End is Nigh," Seth Kleinman says a combination of flattening demand and rising supply will cause oil prices to slide slightly by the end of the decade to $80-$90 a barrel.

But while oil companies have made many large new discoveries over the past few years, including big shale oil finds in North America and Australia as well as deepwater finds in the Gulf of Mexico, that doesn't mean oil prices will fall.

In fact, according to Money Morning Global Energy Strategist Dr. Kent Moors, it's far more likely that oil prices will continue to rise over the next decade.

Moors points out what most other analysts seem to be missing - that all of the new oil finds present many challenges that will add to the cost of extraction.

"None of this new volume is light, sweet crude," Moors said. "The average wellhead costs continue to go up, and that moves its way downstream to processing, wholesale, and retail."

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Australia Shale Oil Discovery Continues the Country's "Lucky" Streak

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Investors are well aware of the shale oil revolution in the United States. But the "revolution" does not end here; it is spreading globally to countries as diverse as China and Poland.

There is one country in particular though that may experience circumstances similar to the United States, if not greater.

I'm talking about Australia, which has often been called "The Lucky Country." That description was first penned in 1964 by Donald Horne and he actually meant it negatively at the time.

But in recent decades, the term has been given a positive spin thanks to Australia's abundance of natural resources and its geographical location near the world's biggest consumer of commodities - China.

And Australia may have struck luck again thanks to the recent announcement of a massive shale oil discovery.

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The Arckaringa Basin Could Be the Largest Shale Oil Find of All Time

Today I've got new information on what could be the largest shale oil find ever recorded - an estimated 233 billion barrels of recoverable shale oil.
This has got the entire energy world abuzz.
That's more that all of the oil in Iran, Iraq, Canada, or Venezuela. And it’s just 30 billion barrels shy of all the reserves in oil-rich Saudi Arabia (or at least what they claim to have).
It's a very exciting find for the (surprising) country where it was found. It means decades of energy independence. Not only that, but the nation will probably begin to export oil in the next few years, too.
But it's perhaps even more exciting for investors. You see, one small company controls what is shaping up to be the biggest worldwide oil project to hit in 40 or 50 years. And they won't be the only ones who get rich from this. Far from it.
Take a look

How China and Saudi Arabia Mean You Should Bet on Higher Oil Prices

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As Money Morning Global Energy Strategist Dr. Kent Moors pointed out not long ago, the sky is not falling on oil prices despite what the doomsayers believe.

There are two crucial countries that are behind the recent rise in oil prices: China and Saudi Arabia.

And if these two nations keep on their current path, it will mean one thing...

Even higher oil prices in 2013. Here's why.

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After Nexen's Buyout, How Should You Play Canadian Oil Sands Stocks?

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The purchase of Calgary-based energy company Nexen Inc. (NYSE: NXY) for $15.1 billion by China's CNOOC Ltd. (NYSE ADR: CEO) is the largest overseas purchase ever by the world's second-biggest economic power.

But it will likely be the last time China, or any other country, takes a big chunk out of Canada's oil sands - the world's third-largest proven reserves of crude oil.

That's because after Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper approved the Nexen deal in December, he banned further foreign firms' investment in Canada's oil sands and will allow them only under "exceptional" circumstances.

"The government's concern and discomfort for some time has been that very quickly, a series of large-scale controlling transactions by foreign state-owned companies could rapidly transform this [oil sands] industry from one that is essentially a free market to one that is effectively under control of a foreign government," Harper said in December.

"Foreign state control of oil sands development has reached the point at which further such foreign state control would not be of net benefit to Canada," he added.

But foreign government control isn't the real problem facing Canadian oil sands companies.

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Why Oil Prices Could Soar 40% by Summer

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Oil prices have continued their upward move that began at the end of 2012, gaining over 8% in the past month.

Now, an oil analyst with Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (NYSE: GS) predicts Brent crude could soar much higher in the next few months.

Jeff Currie, GS's head of commodity research, said he wouldn't be surprised "if we woke up in summer and oil cost $150" per barrel.

That would be a 35% gain from Brent's recent price of $111.

Using the narrowing spread between the Brent price and that of West Texas Intermediate (WTI), at $95, Currie's forecast implies a 40% increase in WTI prices.

And there are many reasons oil could hit those highs by summer, or even sooner.

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