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Investing in an oil spike
October 13, 2011 8:39 AM   Subscribe

I have a good feeling the oil price will go through the roof (+50%) in the next 6-12 months. How can I profit from this in the UK?

Oil options seem interesting, but not sure how to invest in them as a retail investor. Probably looking to spend a few thousand pounds at most.

I've seen this but it doesn't give any practical comments as to how to actually get exposure.
posted by Mossy to Work & Money (14 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
The way which involves the least odds of you getting taken is just to buy stocks in oil producers.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 8:43 AM on October 13, 2011


Oh, and I don't mind losing the full amount if I'm wrong.
posted by Mossy at 8:44 AM on October 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


With that amount to invest, you probably want to buy some kind of ETF. Here's an example:

ProShares Ultra DJ-UBS Crude Oil

Try some Google searches for stuff like "oil ETF" and "energy ETF".
posted by Perplexity at 8:55 AM on October 13, 2011


You can buy USO (United States Oil Fund), which is an ETF for crude.
posted by Houstonian at 8:57 AM on October 13, 2011


The OP is in the UK, not the US, so ProShares Ultra DJ-UBS Crude Oil is not available.

Nor is USO.
posted by dfriedman at 8:58 AM on October 13, 2011


you can certainly buy oil futures and futures options with lots of leverage -either implicit or explicit as a retail investor. You can also use spreads in the UK (they are illegal in the US). Just find the cheapest retail commods broker.

Make sure you are extremely familiar with how leverage and margin calls will work. Make sure you can afford to lose all your money. I think you are crazy for doing this, but I am answering your question.
posted by JPD at 9:07 AM on October 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


It appears that there are some oil-related ETFs in the UK. (Note: I am not especially familiar with the UK stock market).

But see here.
posted by dfriedman at 9:09 AM on October 13, 2011


Shares of oil companies go up by 33p everytime the price of oil goes up by £1. The converse is also true.
posted by moiraine at 9:19 AM on October 13, 2011


If we're talking crazy investments here, I once bought jet fuel that was cached in Antarctica on behalf of a polar-skiing friend, in case he had to be flown out during his next expedition. He ended up not going that year, and with the fuel already in place, it was sold at some profit to other folks rocking up in McMurdo - loads more than if it had been literally anywhere else in the world.

Don't know how you'd go about doing that in the normal retail world, but it's a thought.
posted by Cuppatea at 10:03 AM on October 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


I once bought jet fuel that was cached in Antarctica on behalf of a polar-skiing friend, in case he had to be flown out during his next expedition. He ended up not going that year, and with the fuel already in place, it was sold at some profit to other folks rocking up in McMurdo - loads more than if it had been literally anywhere else in the world.

Actually, there is some logic here. If you believe that oil is currently cheap and that it is going to be more expensive in the future you could buy a barrel of it from someone else, store it, and then sell it at an opportune time. (This, of course, ignores any legal issues, like licensing or environmental regulations, which, of course, would eat into any profit.)

But if you can (1) identify a source for physical oil and (2) people who will likely need oil when you think its price will be higher, you can profit from the spread between its current acquisition cost and what you think its future selling price is.

That said, there are a number of problems with this, which should be considered.

1) It's not that complex a scheme, and someone with more capital and risk appetite than you likely has already thought of this.
2) You need to figure out how to store the oil, pay for its storage and security, etc.
3) You need to figure out how to receive the oil and deliver it at the beginning and end of these transactions.

These three issues will eat into your profits.
posted by dfriedman at 1:06 PM on October 13, 2011


If you're sure about this and don't mind losing then you could look at setting up a spread betting account from somewhere like IG Index where you can speculate on oil prices directly - note the risk that you can lose more than your original investment. Otherwise with a simple online share trading account you can buy oil related shares.
posted by patricio at 2:55 PM on October 13, 2011


A simple, effective, but risky way to leverage your investment into a big windfall if you are right would be to buy call options or warrants for the common stock of oil producers. You'd probably want to buy various options "near the money" expiring in both December and March. If you wanted exposure to global oil prices, you could use BP plc or any super majors, of if you wanted more specifically UK exposure you would need to find more regionally focused drilling companies.

This strategy could be pursued through any discount brokerage firm you may already have an account with, rather than needing to deal with a commodities broker.

Note, this strategy might be exposed to other factors affecting global equity markets, such as the ongoing European crisis.
posted by jameslavelle3 at 3:36 PM on October 13, 2011


Thanks James, do you have any brokerage recommendaitons?
posted by Mossy at 8:01 AM on October 14, 2011


In the US its actually easier to do the commodities derivatives than it is to do the equity derivatives. No idea how the rules are in the UK. A lot of retail equities brokers won't let new account holders buy options out of fear they'll be sued.

Also I really really really disagree with the assertion that oil company shares always follow oil prices. Especially in spike-y sorts of situations.

If you really believe your story don't screw around with the equity exposure.
posted by JPD at 11:30 AM on October 14, 2011


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