Ten years ago, I was in Brazil for a commodities conference, and I had a great opportunity to meet with some petroleum producers and refiners. It was clear that Brazil was getting its act together.
The oil industry was growing, and money was being spent on exploration and development of new oil fields. I realized that the Brazilian oil industry was worth watching.
The Brazilians are very forward-looking and are willing to spend big to produce more oil. They realized then and now that the world was going to need more oil. They were willing to spend some serious
on insuring their place in the global oil picture.
On a Saturday afternoon, I had some free time and went to Ipanema beach in Rio De Janiero. It was a sandy tropical beach with beautiful people everywhere. While sitting there, a kid came up to my beach chair and began showing me how he made a souvenir with wood and leather. He was very animated, and I found him amusing so I bought the thing for a few U.S. dollars.
It wasn't until a few minutes later that I realized he had an accomplice who had reached under my beach chair and lifted my bag. I got fooled by the old "look over here" scam. I had some money and nonsense in there, nothing to get too fired up about.
Later that night, I was going to a restaurant called Banana Cafe. I had been going to this area for the past few nights because there were people from all over the world enjoying the nightlife and restaurants. I felt comfortable. On the way, the cab driver turned and took me down an unfamiliar road.
In about three minutes, we were in a secluded area. We came to a roadblock with a group of about eight or nine men dressed in military garb. I was asked to get out and show my passport. I always lock my passport in the hotel safe when traveling this far.
I told the guys that but apparently that wasn't going to do. I was told that I was going to be brought in to the station and there would be some sort of hearing on Monday when the judge came to work. That's great. I am on my way to jail in one of the most dangerous cities on the planet on Saturday night and not going to be seen until Monday morning, all because I had left my passport in the safe.
I noticed something; they were stalling. My sense was that if they were for real, and this was a legal move, I would have been on my way already, but I wasn't. Risking even further trouble, I took a shot. In what Spanish I know, I offered the apparent leader some money. I think I offered him 20 bucks at first. He said no, but I was still standing there in the street.
The next was 50 and his response was no.
? I asked, and he agreed. In a few minutes, I was on my way to the restaurant.
While our Group of Eight industrialized nations leaders meet in Japan, several things strike me. First, this summit is a big show of muscle with little that ever comes out of it. They are scheduled to talk about the high oil price, the high prices paid for food around the world, the future of carbon emissions and some other issues.
Nicolas Sarkozy, president of France, requested that oil-producing nations add more oil to the market and then took the opportunity to pat France on the back for its nuclear industry. He even named Areva as the world leader in everything nuclear, which is indeed the case.
We should add to our nuclear power generation worldwide. France is producing about 77% of its electricity from nuclear power, while we're
still well below 20%
. There is a good reason for that.
A whopping 60% of our power generation is coal-fired. It just so happens that we are sitting on the largest coal reserves in the world. I am hoping we add nuclear power to take some of the stress off the natural gas and heavy oil-fired power generators.
In fact, most of the G-8 leaders were asking for more oil to be put on the world market (with the exception of Italy prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, who sided with the OPEC leaders in blaming speculators among others). But what else would oil consumers want? More oil ... just add more oil.
While this summit was beginning, Mr. Chakib Khelil, president of OPEC and Algeria's oil minister, was busy spinning away. He claimed that the big run-up in oil prices was due to a few factors. The
was to blame for lowering interest rates. The dollar weakened, so the high price was due to theFed.
He also blamed ethanol and speculators as well. What else would a producing nation want? Blame everyone and anything for the high prices; we'll do anything except add barrels (after all, that might work).
If they admitted to the belief that the prices would fall with more supply, then they would have to put additional "swing production" into play, right? Anything but more oil.
Don't be fooled by OPEC. It is enjoying this massive transfer of wealth. They are oil countries, but oil companies as well. Their business model is to produce oil, and sell it for as much as they can.
As long as they blame someone else, they retain the golden goose. "Additional supply is not what is needed." How many times have you heard that line recently from an oil producer? Too many for me.
My response, "Well, let's try it and find out." Put an additional 2 million barrels a day onto the market as soon as possible (The Saudis say they can get there by the end of 2008). I have a hunch that when production exceeds consumption by 3 million or 4 million per day, the ensuing oil glut will drive everyone out of the long oil trade.
Speculators are a funny group. They change their minds fast, and when a big one switches, the masses follow. If Boone Pickens or some of the other well-followed oil longs bail, watch how fast the pump price reads $2.50 or $2.75 per gallon.
In the meantime, if
has anywhere near the oil and gas it thinks it has from that recent oil find (Tupi Field), it will become a world leader in oil and gas production.
The company believes that there may be up to 8 billion barrels of oil equivalents there. It already has 11 billion of proven reserves and may also have massive finds in its Carioca and Guara fields.
In a world in which
all struggle to find new reserves and bring them online, any new oil reserves should be treated as golden. In a world in which oil fetches $145 per barrel, 8 billion new ones found should be rewarded greatly.
Ten years ago, I was interested in Brazil for many reasons: oil, soybeans, sugar and ethanol. Ten years ago, I was seeing the beginning of a massive emergence of the Brazilian economy. I was even exposed to its checkered past.
Brazil continues to grow and grow. Our own oil companies should take note from Petrobras. But more importantly, our congressional leaders should take note. Do you think Brazil had environmentalists pressuring lawmakers to slap moratoriums on drilling and exploring for oil?
Not likely, unless it came from our own lobbyists. Maybe they like paying 4 bucks a gallon. I sure don't, and the sooner we get oil back down to reason, the sooner the stock and housing markets can regain some footing.
I always wondered how much that cab driver's cut was.
Trade with your head, not over it.
At time of publication, Bolling was long BP and Exxon Mobil, although holdings can change at any time.
Eric Bolling is a host on the new Fox Business Network. Bolling was one of the developers and original panelists (nicknamed "The Admiral") on CNBC's "Fast Money."
Bolling is an active trader specializing in commodities, resource trades and ETFs.
Bolling is a member of several exchanges including The New York Mercantile Exchange (NMX), The Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) and The Commodity Exchange of New York.
After spending 5 years on the Board of Directors at the NYMEX, he became a strategic adviser to that Board of Directors where he assisted in bringing the company (NMX) public. He has been included in Trader Monthly Top 100 in 2005 and 2006. Bolling was the recipient of the Maybach Man of the Year Award in 2007 for his contribution of philanthropy and willingness to de-mystify investing to Main Street.
Bolling graduated from Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida and was awarded a fellowship to Duke University. Bolling was an accomplished baseball player. He was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates where he played before his career was cut short due to injuries. He honors his baseball past by sporting the NYMEX trader badge, R.B.I.