In a letter to investors, Westbeck said a lasting impairment to Russian oil exports coupled with demand destruction will probably drive prices into the $150 to $175 range, and could overshoot above $200 — nearly double its current price. It said that spike might in turn fuel rampant inflation, potentially forcing the Federal Reserve to slam the brakes on rate rises.
“Oil and equity markets are not priced for such a scenario even though, in our view, the odds are high,” the firm said in its letter. “We believe investors should think about insurance policies against that outcome.”
A spokesman for Westbeck, which is managed by Jean-Louis Le Mee and William Smith, confirmed the contents of the letter. The Westbeck Energy Opportunity Fund was up an estimated 3.8% in February and 5.4% so far in March, boosting this year’s gains to 17.4%. The firm manages $380 million in assets.
In the event of a recession induced by a surge in crude prices, Westbeck said oil looks like the superior investment to oil equities, in line with the 2008 global financial crisis. Within stocks, the firm said it favors oilfield service companies.
The Bloomberg Commodity Spot Index, which tracks energy, metals and crop futures, has surged to its highest in more than seven years. Brent crude was trading at above $110 a barrel on Friday, nearing the peak it reached in 2014.
The 23-nation OPEC+ coalition, led by Saudi Arabia, faced a yawning gap in supplies when it gathered on Wednesday. The International Energy Agency sought to calm the rally by deploying emergency stockpiles, to little avail.