Soros And Crude Oil

Posted by Bull Bear Trader | 8/16/2008 05:33:00 AM | , , , , | 0 comments »

As reported at, George Soros purchased an $811 million stake in Petroleo Brasileiro SA (better known as Petrobras) in Q2. The Brazilian oil company is now the largest holding in his fund, amounting to 22 percent of the total $3.68 billion of stocks and American depositary receipts held by Soros Fund Management LLC. Of course, crude oil has taken a dive in the last month, helping to push Petrobras down 28 percent since his purchase and costing Soros's $235 million. I guess we would all like to be in a position to lose nearly a quarter billion dollars and still be "OK". Then again, if Soros holds tight, he could end up doing well.

While the timing for Soros may not be perfect for this trade, a number of other people are also betting on Petrobras. As quoted by Ricardo Kobayashi from UBS Pactual SA: "Petrobras has something that other oil companies don't have: oil - lots of it and they're going to find more. If you can buy now and hang on, if you have the staying power, it's great.'' As written in a previous post , estimates have the Tupi-area fields in Brazil costing between $200-$240 billion to develop, in part due to deepwater rigs causing $600,000 a day to rent, forcing Petrobras to look for capital. Yet the cost might eventually be worth it given that the offshore fields are expected to hold up to 50 billion barrels. Petrobras has already leased approximately 80% of the deepest-drilling offshore rigs (see post). They are also buying new rigs and production platforms. If oil prices stabilize, companies to consider would be Transocean (RIG), Nobel (NE), and Nabors (NBR), each of which have sold off with lower crude prices, but each of which are also near some key support levels. For longer-term investment, some capital-intensive E&P oil companies such as Exxon Mobil (XOM) should do well, even without direct investment. Of course, this all requires crude oil to stabilize, probably stay over $100 a barrel, and potentially continue its march higher. If not, you may be experiencing the short-term returns of Soro, and not necessarily the longer-term ones.