Detailed Glossary

A Detailed Glossary of Energy Trading terms for registered users

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Nick Henfrey



by Nick Henfrey - Thursday, 27 February 2014, 7:24 AM

The p&l of trades (and cash flows) is described as:


Most trades involve delivery at some point in the future

Because the value of the commodity to be delivered is not known before the delivery, the value needs to be estimated or calculated from market data.

For forwards and futures and other linear trade types the value may be estimated by a simple mark to market calculation

For options and other non-linear trades the value may be calculated using the Black 76 method (derived from the earlier Black-Scholes method)

We say the trade's value (its p&l) is unrealized because it is not yet known for certain, and is therefore a cause of market risk

Once delivery has taken place, we know (or don't care about) the delivered value, the value of he trade is known and no longer varies. In effect the p&l is locked in, there is no more market risk associated with this trade and the p&l is said to be realized

The p&l of a trade (or cash flow) moves from unrealized to realized when one or more of the following conditions has been met

  • Delivery has taken place
  • Payment has taken place
  • Some time after one of the previous conditions

Realization is the set of business rules that defines when p&l moves from unrealized to realized based on:

Realization is subjective: different organizations may have different business rules to determine realization



by Nick Henfrey - Monday, 13 April 2015, 5:58 PM

Often used as a term for the Operational activities involved in gas and power


Short term position needs to be nominated or notified to the respective system and market operators:

  • Expected generation
  • Traded position by period with each counterparty at each location
  • Expected consumption by retail customers

This set of activities is often collectively referred to as Scheduling

The schedule of a trade describes the delivery profile (that will need to be nominated)



by Nick Henfrey - Wednesday, 15 January 2014, 7:21 AM

The Business Process or Capability covering the payments relating to trading activities. It includes agreeing payments, making them, and ensuring that payments are received at the correct times


Settlement includes:

We also referred to the concept of financial and physical settlement of trades

We need to be careful to recognize the legal definition of settlement of a physical trade:

Most other parts of energy trading businesses identify the term settlement with cash settlement (or payment)



by Nick Henfrey - Wednesday, 15 January 2014, 7:32 AM

Shape is a term, mainly used in Power Trading to describe a non-continuous delivery over a delivery period

For example a UK power trade may have a delivery period of a month and have peak shape, which specifies that the power will be delivered over a time period of 07:00 - 23:00 each day of the Month


Typical shapes include

  • Peak - peak daytime hours
  • Offpeak - non-peak hours
  • Extended peak - longer hours than peak
  • Blocks - in the UK the day is divided into six four-hour blocks starting at 23:00, Various combinations of these blocks may be traded (note that peak is blocks 3-6)
  • Weekday - Weekdays that are not National Holidays
  • Weekend - non-weekdays
  • Combinations of weekday and weekend and one of the others (e.g. WD345 is blocks 3,4 and 5 on weekdays only)

Shape in Power delivery is usually referred to as Profile


Speculative Trading

by Nick Henfrey - Monday, 13 April 2015, 6:00 PM

Speculative trading, also known as proprietary or spec. trading, is the trading of commodities with the intent of making a profit with no intent to make or take delivery of those commodities


Spec. traders take forward positions, either short or long with the view to closing out those positions at a later date, prior to delivery

Closing out the open position involves trading to flatten the net position, eventually (but before delivery) to zero



by Nick Henfrey - Monday, 13 April 2015, 6:01 PM

A spot trade in general refers to a trade with immediate delivery. In energy trading terms it usually refers to a trade with delivery on the day it is executed (within day) or for the following day (day ahead)


There is usually high volume trading in spots, particularly for power and gas, as speculative traders try and close out their positions as delivery times approach, and asset-backed traders try to balance, and financially optimize their positions. A large proportion of spots are traded on Exchanges and through Brokers

Spot trades are settled physically, and even if executed on an Exchange are often settled by invoice and payment within a day or two of delivery



by Nick Henfrey - Wednesday, 3 September 2014, 5:20 PM

A spread is a difference in price, or value, of two similar but different underliers

An Energy Spread trade s a type of trade between two floating prices on similar but not identical energy underliers


Spread trades are usually financially settled

Different types of Energy Spread are classified by the difference in the underliers:

Many commodity spreads are associated with the cost of generating electricity, so they involve electricity as one commodity, the others may be:

  • Gas - usually called a Spark Spread
  • Coal - usually called a Dark Spread
  • Oil - usually called a Slick Spread 

Another group of commodity spreads are associated with the cost of refining, so they involve crude oil as one commodity, the others being refined products such as gasoline. These are known as crack spreads

Spread is also used to describe the difference in prices between locations, times, commodities




by Nick Henfrey - Wednesday, 3 September 2014, 5:38 PM

A type of commodity, which although it may be applied to any physical commodity, usually describes the ability to store natural gas in its gaseous state

Storage facilities usually consist of natural structures (depleted gas fields for example) that are attached to the gas pipeline network


Storage may be bought from the Storage operators in auctions or traded

Storage allows the option to inject gas into storage, or release gas from storage

The commercial use of storage is generally to allow gas to be transferred into Storage (injected) in Summer months when the prices are low, and released (withdrawn) in the peak Winter months when gas prices are high

Storage behaves somewhat like an option on a physically settled time spread


Swing Contract

by Nick Henfrey - Monday, 13 April 2015, 6:04 PM

Also known as a swing option, a swing contract is a type of contract that allows the buyer the option, but not the obligation, to take periodic deliveries of a product at a volume nominated by them between a minimum and a maximum volume at an agreed price


Swing contracts ate typically used in long term supply contracts of gas, oil and power

They are frequently combined with a take or pay clause, which specifies that a minimum amount of product must be taken over a set of long periods

e.g. A swing contract may specify that a daily volume between 10 and 100 units may be taken each day

A take or pay clause may specify that a minimum of 365 * 15 units may be taken over the entire year

Daily nominations of swing contracts are usually made by a particular time on the previous day, and may be transmitted electronically

Valuation of swing contracts is extremely complex, because of the daily optionality, and particularly if there is a take or pay clause as the overall delivery is constrained

Swing contracts may be short or long term (up to twenty-five years). Typically the price is either renegotiated periodically, or indexed to an index, or a basket of indexes 


Take or Pay

by Nick Henfrey - Sunday, 12 April 2015, 3:34 PM

A type of supply contract in which the buyer commits to buying a minimum quantity of some product, or to make an alternative payment for the amount below the minimum quantity

Take or Pay contracts are widely used in the Gas and Oil markets


The minimum quantity, the price of purchase, and the price paid for any amount below the minimum are all defined in the contract

Typically the buyer nominates a delivery volume each day from the supplier, the minimum quantity applies over a year

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