• 16 hours Shell Oil Trading Head Steps Down After 29 Years
  • 20 hours Higher Oil Prices Reduce North American Oil Bankruptcies
  • 22 hours Statoil To Boost Exploration Drilling Offshore Norway In 2018
  • 23 hours $1.6 Billion Canadian-US Hydropower Project Approved
  • 1 day Venezuela Officially In Default
  • 1 day Iran Prepares To Export LNG To Boost Trade Relations
  • 1 day Keystone Pipeline Leaks 5,000 Barrels Into Farmland
  • 1 day Saudi Oil Minister: Markets Will Not Rebalance By March
  • 2 days Obscure Dutch Firm Wins Venezuelan Oil Block As Debt Tensions Mount
  • 2 days Rosneft Announces Completion Of World’s Longest Well
  • 2 days Ecuador Won’t Ask Exemption From OPEC Oil Production Cuts
  • 2 days Norway’s $1 Trillion Wealth Fund Proposes To Ditch Oil Stocks
  • 2 days Ecuador Seeks To Clear Schlumberger Debt By End-November
  • 2 days Santos Admits It Rejected $7.2B Takeover Bid
  • 2 days U.S. Senate Panel Votes To Open Alaskan Refuge To Drilling
  • 3 days Africa’s Richest Woman Fired From Sonangol
  • 3 days Oil And Gas M&A Deal Appetite Highest Since 2013
  • 3 days Russian Hackers Target British Energy Industry
  • 3 days Venezuela Signs $3.15B Debt Restructuring Deal With Russia
  • 3 days DOJ: Protestors Interfering With Pipeline Construction Will Be Prosecuted
  • 3 days Lower Oil Prices Benefit European Refiners
  • 3 days World’s Biggest Private Equity Firm Raises $1 Billion To Invest In Oil
  • 4 days Oil Prices Tank After API Reports Strong Build In Crude Inventories
  • 4 days Iraq Oil Revenue Not Enough For Sustainable Development
  • 4 days Sudan In Talks With Foreign Oil Firms To Boost Crude Production
  • 4 days Shell: Four Oil Platforms Shut In Gulf Of Mexico After Fire
  • 4 days OPEC To Recruit New Members To Fight Market Imbalance
  • 4 days Green Groups Want Norway’s Arctic Oil Drilling Licenses Canceled
  • 4 days Venezuelan Oil Output Drops To Lowest In 28 Years
  • 5 days Shale Production Rises By 80,000 BPD In Latest EIA Forecasts
  • 5 days GE Considers Selling Baker Hughes Assets
  • 5 days Eni To Address Barents Sea Regulatory Breaches By Dec 11
  • 5 days Saudi Aramco To Invest $300 Billion In Upstream Projects
  • 5 days Aramco To List Shares In Hong Kong ‘For Sure’
  • 5 days BP CEO Sees Venezuela As Oil’s Wildcard
  • 5 days Iran Denies Involvement In Bahrain Oil Pipeline Blast
  • 8 days The Oil Rig Drilling 10 Miles Under The Sea
  • 8 days Baghdad Agrees To Ship Kirkuk Oil To Iran
  • 8 days Another Group Joins Niger Delta Avengers’ Ceasefire Boycott
  • 8 days Italy Looks To Phase Out Coal-Fired Electricity By 2025
Alt Text

Oil Drillers Reopen The Fracking Debate

The debate surrounding fracking’s environmental…

Alt Text

Did Oil Markets Overreact To The Saudi Purge?

Oil markets responded dramatically to…

Alt Text

Iraq Struggles To Keep Oil Exports Elevated

Iraq is struggling to offset…

Michael McDonald

Michael McDonald

Michael is an assistant professor of finance and a frequent consultant to companies regarding capital structure decisions and investments. He holds a PhD in finance…

More Info

Oil’s Most Popular Trading Products May Soon Be Delisted

Offshore rig

For most retail investors, buying physical crude oil as a commodity is not an option. Instead, many investors turn to exchange traded notes (ETNs) as a way to speculate on changes in oil prices themselves.

But direct oil investment products like USO have always been dicey as investment choices. More sophisticated investors with big Wall Street banks who have high speed trading and information advantages can essentially front run products like USO which trade oil contracts on a predictable basis. As a result, USO has been a far from perfect tool to replicate oil’s price movements.

By the same token, leveraged structured products including some oil ETNs are an even worse choice. For evidence of that, one need look no further than UWTI, the leveraged exchange traded note run by Credit Suisse. Credit Suisse recently announced that it was delisting UWTI and a similar but slightly smaller leveraged ETN also focused on oil.

The problem with products like UWTI is not that the product is unsuccessful, but rather that it is broken. UWTI was supposed to give investors triple the daily exposure to a crude oil index. That meant gains or losses from speculating on oil could be substantially magnified by investors using the product. For that reason, the daily dollar trading value of UWTI was roughly the same as the dollar value of megacap Exxon Mobil’s daily trading volume.

Similarly, UWTI has incredible liquidity – roughly half its shares turned over on any given day. That was largely driven by the fact that ETNs are not appropriate long term investments because of the transactions costs they incur in operations. Unfortunately for traders, those transactions costs add up over time – that’s true in the case of UWTI and virtually all other leveraged ETNs. Related: OPEC November Production Hits Record Highs

In the case of UWTI, this meant that the shares lost 99.6 percent of their value over the last four years even as oil has only fallen by 50 percent. The only thing that stopped UWTI from ending up as one of the cheapest of penny stock investments is that the shares went through multiple reverse splits. Investors in UWTI were virtually guaranteed to lose money on the shares if they held them for even a short time, especially when compared to the alternative of investing in less costly alternatives offering exposure to oil.

Given the total failure of the product, it is little wonder that Credit Suisse is delisting them right now. The bigger question for investors is whether the suspension of further issuances of the ETN will simply be followed by a new similar product that will meet an identically ignominious end in a few years. Based on the success of UWTI, there is clearly a market for such a product – a fact which is an enduring testament to the poor decision making of some investors. Investors often invest in these products as a tool to capture a broad view about the direction of a commodity failing to realize the flaws of the product.

Of course, there are many alternatives to physical oil as an investment for those who see an increase in oil prices coming. Oil stocks and ETFs of oil producers and servicers like XOP are a great option. These investments are correlated with oil prices, but don’t perfectly reflect changes in oil prices. On the other hand, neither did UWTI which is why it will no longer be listed for trading.

By Michael McDonald of oilprice.com

More Top Reads From Oilprice.com:




Back to homepage


Leave a comment

Leave a comment




Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News