A momentous week without doubt, not just in and around the Capitol building, but beyond and across a very tired and anxious world. There was still talk globally of polar vortexes, while US politics suddenly became that of polar opposites. The COVID pendulum swung again, as the roll-out of vaccines became a concern, while the number of cases, and especially deaths, darkened the light of hope at the end of the tunnel, seemingly pushing it further into 2021.
As 2020 was the year totally dominated by coronavirus, COVID-19, whatever name you choose to call it, 2021 will surely be liberated by the “vaccines”. Yet confinement, lockdown, stay-at-home orders, that are so prevalent today in many industrialized countries of the world, are the response to what is clearly the most serious phase of this pandemic. It’s visibly showing that we believe positive change is on its way, and our ability economically to ride the current storm is proving to be far better than April’s 20% collapse in global economic output.
Do you get that feeling when the world is starting to head in a certain direction, some thing or somebody, comes in and screws it all up? Whatever our political inclinations may be, we started to believe there would be some kind of peaceful handover of the Presidential baton in the most powerful and richest democracy in the world. How wrong we were! We all felt the light at the end of the coronavirus tunnel was getting nearer, as vaccines galore were being approved, only for people in the know to start questioning how quickly those shots in our upper arms could actually be administered.
I normally try not to say “bang” and “LPG” in the same sentence, I think it is asking for trouble, but I have to admit the numbers are suggesting it’s exactly what we are seeing as 2021 begins. Despite the news of the quickly spreading COVID variant forcing more lockdowns, the disappointing inoculation rates coming out of the U.S., where only 1 million people were vaccinated in the first week despite an initial monthly target of 20 million, and demand forecasts for oil, as well as most things, slipping further along the timeline, the LPG world in contrast is on a bit of a roll!
Wherever you’re living in the world, we only have a few days left before the end of a bewildering year. I’ve just got through Christmas, I admit with a hangover, but this time it’s more my stomach’s position in relation to my trouser belt that’s agitating me a little. We’re now on that very British day; Boxing Day, which I won’t try and explain the meaning of, but it’s not as straight forward as you might think, and then it’s that weird week leading up to the New Year.
Dreams, hopes; optimism and uncertainty, they’re all poignant feelings for a lot of us at this time of year, but even more so at the moment, as we try to make sense of a year navigating the challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, and look for some sort of path, hopefully positive, going forward into 2021.
It’s the 50th SIMON SAYS of the year, and of course, just by coincidence, the Brent crude oil price has joined in, passing through the same number in dollars/ Bbl for the first time since early March this year. Even in a week that saw a massive build in U.S. crude oil stocks, sentiment has kept its place at the vanguard of market direction, spurred on by the first approved coronavirus vaccine being injected into a very jovial 90 year old lady, here in the UK. Canada followed, and we await the U.S.
I woke up last Sunday to the news that two old heavyweights, clearly in need of extra money, had come out of their respective corners to put on what many were expecting to be nothing more than a short sparring match, before sitting down in front of the world’s press to explain how they were both clearly the winners. By the way, I’m not talking about Mike Tyson’s fight, come exhibition, with Roy Jones Jr! No, I’m on about the hurly-burly that’s been going on at the very core of OPEC over the last week or so, involving two of their own towering heavyweights, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
If you happen to be short a VLGC or two in this week’s LPG market, then the saying “it’s all gone Pete Tong” may well be the fitting use of this increasingly popular cockney rhyming slang, come idiom, to describe when it goes “a bit wrong”, although what happened last week was certainly not small in any sort of magnitude. For those still not sure what the last couple of sentences mean, the slang actually dates back to 1987, when fellow DJ Paul Oakenfold used the lingo in an article about acid house music, called “Bermondsey Goes Balearic”, for the Boys Own fanzine.
The good news just keeps on rolling in, whether it’s further positive data from Pfizer/ BioNTech, the new Moderna vaccine, our very own Oxford University/ Astra Zeneca serum, which is showing very encouraging phase two test results, as well as Russia’s very own Sputnik V inoculation, that’s a great name! But as always there’s an understandable inclination for everybody to concentrate on these short-term success events, instead of getting to grips with longer term trends, and the big one of course is climate change.