Crude Oil to Natural Gas Ratio

In the Moneylife issue dated 24 September 2009, we had written about crude oil to natural gas ratio hitting its highest level indicating that oil is vastly expensive relative to natural gas. The conclusion was that either natural gas would go up sharply or oil would fall. Since then, natural gas has shot up 62%, while oil has been weak. Natural gas prices surged mainly because gas supply was expected to be in line with demand, resulting from the brisk pullback in US drilling activity. The number of rigs drilling for natural gas in the US has decreased 56% since last year.
 

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Tea, Caprolactam and Cardamon

Tea import by India, the world’s largest producer after China, has shot up 28% in July 2009, despite high prices. In July 2009, India imported 2.85 million kg of tea compared with 2.05 million kg a year earlier. India produced 460.88 million kg till July 2009, about 16 million kg less than a year earlier. Drought in Assam, the largest producing state, has raised fears of a decline in domestic output prompting rise in import and higher prices. The import price of tea went up to Rs83.93/kg in July 2009 from Rs73.71/kg in July last year. However, the average export price of tea rose to Rs133.80/kg between January 2009 and July 2009 from Rs106.27/kg in the previous year.

Caprolactam is the principal raw material for Nylon-6, and is used for producing nylon filament yarn (NFY) and nylon tyre cord fabric (NTCF). Its demand from automobile and textile manufacturers has been rising. The international price has surged 66% from the February low of Rs70,000 per tonne to Rs1,16,000 a tonne as on 15 September 2009.

Cardamom output may fall 15%-20% this season as plantations in Kerala were devoid of showers during June 2009 that lowered crop output. Last year, production was 10,000 tonnes. Heavy rains during the latter half of August 2009 have further affected the crop.

 

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Natural Gas

Natural gas slid to a seven-and-a-half-year low, falling to an intraday low of $2.409 per million British thermal units (mmBtu) on 4 September 2009. But, from there, it recorded a jump of 56% in just a few days of trading. The price was $3.76 per mmBtu as on 15th September. Natural gas prices were under pressure due to shortage of storage as well as moderate demand due to an economic downturn. Meanwhile, for this time of the year, gas inventories are 17% above the five-year average and the US Energy Department expects supplies to exceed the record of 3.545 trillion cubic feet reached on 2 November 2007.

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