June 29: Bloggers discuss BP’s problems

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June 29: The blogosphere is warming up to the story about BP’s problems in the US after the group was accused of cornering a significant portion of the propane market. Robert Hansen, a professor of finance at Tuck, has written about how BP lost money on the propane trades in question. Michael Stastny writes interestingly about the difficulty of selling at or near the top in the sort of circumstances BP found itself. DealBreaker.com calls the alleged scheme “juvenile”. Anybody visiting these blogs should remember that BP is denying any market manipulation.

It is also worth spending some time if you can, as I did this morning, on the website of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission: in addition to the full details of the complaint, the watchdog has provided audio tapes of some extremely interesting phone conversations, helpfully accompanied by transcripts. BP denies any market manipulation occurred and plans to fight the CFTC’s allegation.

We are trying to assess just how significant this succession of problems in the US (including the Prudhoe Bay spill and last year’s Texas refinery explosion) really is for BP. Certainly, there is no impact on the share price today, although the stock has underperformed its peers since the beginning of last year. Don’t worry, though. We’ll also try to explain what exactly it is that BP is alleged to have done.

In case it didn’t make it into your edition of the paper, it’s worth pointing out that Doug Cameron in Chicago wrote a terrific piece about the propane market and its importance to millions of people who inhabit what he didn’t call trailer parks (he’s too polite). Lex, online now, says that proving a case against BP will be difficult and that oil prices will remain a much more important driver of the group’s share price.

Diageo has posted a strong sales update.

Trinity Mirror looks dreadful, having reported a sharp drop in advertising revenues for the first six months and offered no hope of an upturn this year.

Finally, if you’ve been following the debate surrounding Rosneft’s forthcoming IPO, take part in our online poll on whether it poses a threat to London’s reputation. Readers have begun posting some interesting comments.

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