Public Comment

ENRONed Again

By James Sayre
Thursday June 12, 2008 - 10:52:00 AM

We’re being ENRONed again: this time by oil futures contracts speculators who are unnecessarily and very profitably driving up the price of crude oil and hence retail gasoline prices. Curious as to why you are suddenly paying over four dollars a gallon for gasoline? No, it’s not due to “supply-and-demand,” no, it’s not due to “OPEC,” nor is it due to “peak oil.” It’s due to totally unregulated electronic oil futures trading in world markets. Check out the very lucid article that explains the unseen financial machinations in oil futures markets written by F. W. Engdahl on May 2, entitled, “Perhaps 60 Percent of Today’s Oil Price is Pure Speculation.” It may be viewed at 

In a nutshell, he suggests that the Bush administration dropped the ball in January 2006, when they allowed totally unregulated electronic trading of oil futures contracts in New York. Previously these electronic trades had been made at the London Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) Futures Market. With that decision by the Bush administration, all of the world’s oil prices were then opened to upward pressure from speculative futures contracts. In essence, oil futures contracts made by speculators, banks, hedge funds and pension funds all competed with real demand on the spot markets and had the effect of driving up both wholesale oil prices and retail gasoline prices. Speculators have made billions of dollars on their trading of oil futures contracts. All of their profits come right out of our pockets. 

Even with a stable oil supply, there is a slow worldwide increase in demand for oil, which creates a long-term upward pressure on oil prices. However, with the relentless saber-rattling and war-mongering by Bush and Cheney in the last several years, and the more recent war talks by McCain and the Israelis, the oil futures markets are rife with speculation and paranoia. This war talk keeps ratcheting up the prices on the oil futures contracts and hence the wholesale spot market prices. It is an endless spiral of greed and paranoia. 

As long as there is no tough and effective oversight of the electronic oil futures markets by the Bush administration, the oil prices will climb endlessly. These oil prices will be quickly followed by hikes in the retail gasoline prices at the pump. The 60% speculation share of the $4.25/gallon gasoline price, is about $2.55/gallon, which is what we consumers are paying to these oil speculators as a “service fee.” Not a bad “fee,” since the speculators produce no usable goods or services...Just a few large greedy oil futures traders helping themselves to your gas money. 

Without this added-on oil futures “service fee,” you would be paying about $1.75/gallon for gasoline. Write, call or smoke-signal your Representatives and Senators today and suggest that they read the June 2006 report by The U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations entitled, “The Role of Market Speculation in Rising Oil and Gas Prices.” Then demand that they investigate and then force the Bush administration to firmly regulate the computerized oil futures contracts trading in New York, London and Dubai. 


James K. Sayre is an Oakland resident.