Londres promet la sévérité si manipulation des prix pétroliers
15/05 | 14:29
Les compagnies pétrolières qui se seraient rendues coupables de manipulation des prix auront à subir "la pleine puissance de la loi", a déclaré mercredi le ministre britannique de l'Energie.
La Commission européenne a annoncé mardi qu'elle enquêtait sur des soupçons d'entente entre différentes compagnies pétrolières, qui auraient transmis de fausses données à Platts, leader mondial de l'information sur les prix pétroliers, afin de manipuler les prix appliqués aux consommateurs finaux.
Dernière édition par yvesT75 le Ven 17 Mai - 13:32, édité 1 fois
- Messages : 550
Date d'inscription : 09/10/2010
Inquiry on Potential Oil Price Manipulation Intensifies
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/16/business/global/inquiry-on-potential-oil-price-manipulation-intensifies-in-europe.html?smid=tw-shareWhen a BP rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, Richard Fry, a top executive at a trucking company, said he noticed something strange about the oil market. Prices spiked quickly, he recalled, and they took much longer to drop.
“It is too coincidental that companies’ prices all go up the same and all come down very, very slowly,” said Mr. Fry, who buys large amounts of fuel for his company, Framptons Transport Services.
European authorities are also worried about the forces behind the market.
On Wednesday, the European Commission ramped up its inquiry into the potential manipulation of oil and biofuel prices, as investigators continued to question BP, Royal Dutch Shell and Statoil about their trading activities, according to people with knowledge of the meetings. Regulators, in part, are focused on a pricing system operated by Platts, a unit of the McGraw-Hill Companies.
BP and Royal Dutch Shell said they were cooperating with the investigation. Statoil did not return calls for comment.
Authorities face a daunting task. Oil is one of the murkiest markets. Much of the vast global oil trade occurs away from regulated financial exchanges, as companies and traders buy and sell billions of dollars of crude oil each day and ship it around the world.
Agencies like Platts and privately held Argus Media have carved out a niche tracking those transactions and developing benchmarks for pricing oil. The agencies establish prices by phoning and messaging traders. Platts supplements that information by tallying up the bids and offers submitted to an internal trading system.
Their influence is extensive. Total, the French oil giant, estimated last year that 75 to 80 percent of crude oil and refined product transactions were linked to the prices published by such agencies.
Consumers and companies are heavily reliant on the market, which affects a range of things, from the price at the pump to the cost of an airline ticket to supermarket bills.
A refinery, which turns crude oil into products like gasoline and diesel, might use a Platts price as a reference for the crude oil it buys to run through its system. The refinery then turns the oil into gasoline, which is sold to consumers and companies.
Mr. Fry’s company buys 36,000 liters of diesel fuel every eight to 10 days either from a big company like BP or a wholesaler. It is the biggest expense, accounting for 35 to 40 percent of the company’s costs. When a trucking company goes out of business, fuel prices are usually “the reason they had to close doors,” said Mr. Fry, who is also chairman of the Road Haulage Association, an industry group in Britain.
Authorities are worried that oil companies may be distorting prices.
The European inquiry comes as regulators broadly look into whether traders and others are manipulating a variety of markets. Over the last year, several big banks have faced multibillion-dollar fines for their role in rigging a critical benchmark known as the London interbank offered rate, or Libor.
“Regulatory scrutiny of all price-setting mechanisms has probably increased as a result of the Libor scandal, especially when some see processes like energy price reporting as subjective and prone to manipulation,” said Roderick Bruce, an analyst at IHS, a market research firm in London.
Platts operates in an unusual way, by relying on an internal trading system to help determine prices. Market participants, like oil companies, financial institutions, and airlines, submit bids and offers and reports of transactions. During the last 30 to 45 minutes of the day, those submissions come at a frenzied pace.
The big question is whether the system can be manipulated.
Critics contend that the number of trades through the Platts system can be sufficiently low, allowing for potential manipulation. As a result, they say that oil companies could have an impact on prices by submitting low or high bids, especially at the end of the day.
The “process has faced criticism because it concentrates price discovery in a small assessment time window, perhaps making it more prone to potential manipulation,” Mr. Bruce said.
Platts defends its process, saying it strictly controls the window process to avoid “dramatic and sudden price movements.” Editors, the company added, also have discretion to take into account cargo size and other factors that may affect the markets.
If history is any indication, it may be hard to determine whether companies manipulated the markets.
The International Organization of Securities Commissions, a regulation group, investigated the role of the agencies for two years starting in 2010. In the end, the group settled for a new compliance code, which is largely voluntary.
Last year, the Road Haulage Association tried to persuade Britain’s competition regulator to investigate. But the group said it was told that there was insufficient evidence to support the claim.
“All of our members will be pleased that someone is now looking into the issue,” said Mr. Fry. “We hope it will lead to a fairer price of fuel.”
- Messages : 550
Date d'inscription : 09/10/2010
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