Thursday, February 25, 2010

Commodities & Ethics

Commodities is a fascinating sector to work in; the trading on everything from Oil, Gas, mineral and food commodities is essential for the worlds economies. Generally it is however the most difficult place to actually do a deal, because of the lack of any effective control, regulations or transparency in its dealing with the other companies in the sector.

My company is acting primarily at the point as a seller mandate for those sellers who have products to sell; well you may think that is wonderful, because no matter who actually buys the product you are selling we get paid, this is right, however there are a few assumptions with that line of reasoning; as with every human endeavour the single most important part of dealing in this sector is due diligence on the supplier, the product, the seller and buyer chains including the mandates and of course the actual buyers.

Now currently I have a deal for 30 million barrels of JP54 (jet fuel) do u think I can find a real buyer who can follow the procedures on this deal ?  Lots of talk, lots of rhetoric, lots of promises, but no actual real buyer… the majority of buyers want POP (Proof of Product) before they will show any POF (Proof of their funds) – unfortunately sellers will not provide anything to a buyer ( unless a major or mid-major) until they have shown Proof of Funds… so we are in this difficult place.. which always comes down to who will blink first…

Sellers have to follow specified procedures, because normally these procedures are forced on them in a direct response to their suppliers, who are generally refineries. 

Quite frankly if I hear one more buyer tell me he wants POP, proof of product,,, before providing anything I think I will scream… POP is like the title document to you house, it is the legal proof that the product exists, and can be lifted.  Too many buyers want Proof of Product, when they have no money of their own, because they need the POP to show their bank or backers to release the fund to buy the product so they can on-sell the product usually without owning the product outright for less than a few moments… this is called flipping….

Essentially if I had a understanding bank manager, and a POP document, I could also trade in Oil… using the POP to take to a major buyer… like I say to these continual requests for POP… if I had POP what would I need you for… you are the Oil trader, you are supposed to actually have the capacity to buy the oil to resell at a higher price.

In the last week I have dealt with five so called buyers, not one of them would stick to the sellers procedures, not one of them was capable of buying the product we have for sale…

Unfortunately ethics, honour, transparency and integrity are very rare beasts to find in the commodities game… sadly.  When you find someone who exhibits these attributes hang on to them, because they are definitely the exception not the rule.

More on this soon..

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