Mapping The World’s Energy On The Move

Commodity traders can get a real-time view of their most important assets with a new interactive data and mapping tool on Thomson Reuters Eikon, its trader desktop.

Want to see what’s happening in the Houston Ship Channel? Click on Energy and see the refineries and ships around Houston. Click on a refinery for information on ownership, production capacity and current status/spare capacity. The map also shows all the tankers in the area, with regular updates on their movements and direction from ship transponders whose signals are picked up by on-shore monitors. Movements of ships further at sea are updated from satellite information about seven times a day. Ship colors indicate size, such as very large crude carriers, and the map shows whether they are full or empty. Click on a symbol to see the ship’s name and other information.

Called simply enough, Interactive Map, the tool has been in development for over a year.

Weather? Overlay local or global weather conditions and see ships that could be in danger so you can prepare alternate routes for them send a substitute cargo from a different direction to arrive after the storm.

Not working in Houston? Type in Vancouver for information there, or Shanghai. Search for coal mines, nuclear plants, or gas powered generators. Summary tables will show information by region.

Looking for a Maersk tanker? The map showed a very large crude carrier (VLCC) heading into the Suez Canal. Click on it to show its track and where the ship has been in the last 48 or 64 hours.

The mapping, from geographical specialist Esri, sits on top of a huge database of energy and commodity information so customers can access the data and see the results in a visual map at any scale they want.

“Analysts will look at broad production while traders will look at events and how they impact supply chains so they can determine how to change their trading strategy and ways to handle physical risk,” said Shaun Sibley, managing director, commodities & energy at Thomson Reuters. “Their customers want to understand the potential impact of a hurricane on the East coast or earthquakes hitting mines in Chile.”

When Sandy was moving toward the U.S. coast, the maps were incredible, Sibley added. The maps showed which refineries could be hit by the storm. They also shows surface temperatures and wind speeds to help utilities predict power consumption and production. They can also show flooding potential for six to 24 hours.

Concerned about Iran and the Strait of Hormuz. The map can show all the ships in the strait and link to Reuters stories about the pinch point. How’s congestion at the Panama Canal? The map shows ships in transit and those waiting at anchor on either side. Again, a weather overlay will show current or approaching storms, their type and intensity.

Type in LNG and see all the liquefaction plants and check ship locations.

“They love the vessel data,” said Geoff Smith, head of fundamentals product, said about clients who have used it in beta.”That is the big thing in the energy market.” Eikon also lets traders move data from the map and underlying data into Excel.

“But if you try to understand the data just by looking at Excel, it is difficult. With the map you can see the relationships, where energy is coming in and how and how events can affect it.”

“As visualization capabilities continue to grow more sophisticated, financial firms are increasingly relying on real-time visual display functionality to help them refine their strategies,” said Rik Turner, senior analyst at Ovum. “In the commodities sub-vertical, using advanced map imagery to capture, understand and drill into various aspects, such as commodity freight and production and the impact of storms and natural disasters, enhances financial professionals’ ability to interact with that data, enabling them to make more informed trading decisions.”

“Filtering is important,” added Sibley. “For a specific commodity in a region I can select it, filter out what isn’t important and put it in Excel.” Clients can also take a list of ships from Excel and enter them into the map. Operations teams have used the maps to respond to storms in the South Atlantic and move ships to avoid them. The mapping database is constantly updated with information from Thomson Reuters and Platt.

“With Eikon we are harnessing advanced technology to present financial data in an incredibly simple, intuitive way,” said Leigh Henson, head of energy at Thomson Reuters. “The simplicity really belies the complexity behind it,”  “Interactive Map helps commodities professionals to stay ahead of the market and react to changes in weather patterns and political and geographical events which may alter production and delivery as we saw with the impact of Hurricane Sandy on East Coast US oil refineries recently. And the simple visualization means they’ll get the picture instantly, quite literally.”