Reimagining Commodity Trading

A new breed of commodity-trading titans and digital contenders are about to reorder the industry.

Over the past year, the gulf between high-performing commodity traders and weaker players has been widening.

Big oil traders such as Trafigura, Glencore, BP, and Shell Trading racked up record trading results. At the same time, smaller oil traders and players in other weaker-performing commodity classes stagnated or declined.

Meanwhile, new digital entrants in the power sector signaled sweeping change in the next decade, as legacy commodity traders began to rethink the impact of digitization and a greater
degree of electrification on their vaunted trading operations. Apple and Google, for instance, have subsidiaries that are registered energy wholesalers in the United States. The German tech firm United Internet has also launched a new business, aiming to trade and market energy and energy services.

Reimagining Commodity Trading

Roland Rechtsteiner discusses the commodity trading market

$44 billion: The commodity trading industry’s total gross margins

About the Authors

Alexander Franke is a Zurich-based partner, Christian Lins is a Zurich-based principal, and Roland Rechtsteiner is a Zurich-based partner in Oliver Wyman’s Energy practice. Graham Sharp is a senior advisor to Oliver Wyman. Ernst Frankl, a Frankfurt-based partner, and Adam Perkins, a London-based engagement manager in Oliver Wyman’s Energy practice, contributed to this article.

Reimagining Commodity Trading