Traders and fund managers have left crude oil markets in recent months, dropping activity to a seven-year low amid the worst global energy crisis in decades as investors become unwilling to deal with persistently high volatility.
The exodus of participants, especially hedge funds and speculators, has made daily price swings far greater than in previous years; making it harder for companies to hedge against physical purchases of oil.
The volatility has harmed companies that need energy market stability for their operations; which includes oil-and-gas companies, but also manufacturing and food-and-beverage industries.
Brent crude futures are swinging sharply on a daily basis. Between Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24 through Aug. 15, the daily range between Brent’s session highs and lows averaged $5.64. For the same time period last year, the average was $1.99, a Reuters analysis of Refinitiv Eikon data showed.
The high volatility is delaying increased capital expenditures that would help supply keep pace with energy demand, said Arjun Murti, a veteran energy analyst. When volatility is high, oil companies have less confidence in price forecasts, he said.