Commodity Prices and the Option Value of Storage

30 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2007 Last revised: 14 Nov 2014

See all articles by Lewis T. Evans

Lewis T. Evans

Victoria University of Wellington - New Zealand Institute for Study of Competition and Regulation Inc. (ISCR)

Graeme Guthrie

Victoria University of Wellington - School of Economics & Finance

Date Written: November 14, 2014

Abstract

Commodities are physical, not financial, assets. We investigate the effects on equilibrium spot-price behavior of frictions in the storage process, which introduce an element of irreversibility to storage decisions and lead to periods when storage operators do not trade in the spot market. We value the real option to delay selling a stored commodity, which comes bundled with the stored commodity itself and generates a convenience yield. The latter arises if the spot price is incorrectly used to measure the market value of the stored commodity, ignoring the embedded real option. It can be interpreted as the expected excess return on the real option to delay selling the stored commodity. Rather than equalling a flow of benefits received during the period over which the return from storage is being calculated, it actually represents changes in the present value of benefits that will be received only some time after the measurement period, when the commodity is released from storage. Storage frictions also generate heteroskedastic spot prices, with volatility being much higher when storage operators decide not to trade in the spot market.

Keywords: Commodity Prices, Convenience Yield, Real Options, Frictions

JEL Classification: D51, G13, Q1, Q4

Suggested Citation

Evans, Lewis T. and Guthrie, Graeme, Commodity Prices and the Option Value of Storage (November 14, 2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1003751 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1003751

Lewis T. Evans

Victoria University of Wellington - New Zealand Institute for Study of Competition and Regulation Inc. (ISCR) ( email )

Wellington 6001
New Zealand
64 4 4635562 (Phone)
64 4 4635566 (Fax)

Graeme Guthrie (Contact Author)

Victoria University of Wellington - School of Economics & Finance ( email )

P.O. Box 600
Wellington 6140
New Zealand
64 4 463 5763 (Phone)

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