Power trading internationally

Hey WSO,

I'm about to finish an engineering degree, and I'm looking to get into energy markets. Long term goal at the moment is to be a power trader.
Did a couple internships in the power industry (engineering roles at gas/coal/renewable plants) which is what piqued my interest in power markets. So far I've been lucky to get a couple interviews for trading analyst and RT trader roles at utilities, which is very exciting.

However, I am very keen to work abroad. Obviously Europe and North America are awesome (I'm an aussie), but I'm especially keen on some of the more remote corners of the world - I'm thinking Central Asia, Africa, South America, Southeast Asia etc. Sure I could visit on a holiday, but if I could see some of the world and advance my career at the same time, that would be the dream.

From what I can tell, it's common for traders of other commodities to go scope out soy bean yields in Brazil, LPG terminals in Indonesia, mines in Kazakhstan, etc. Do similar opportunities exist in power? I guess electricity is a bit unique in that it is not a bulk commodity, but I was wondering if there was still any opportunity for international work.

Should I maybe try to get involved with another commodity if working abroad is a priority? Power is my main interest at the moment given my background, but I'm open to others.

Would love to get your thoughts on this, maybe hear about your experiences if you don't mind sharing. Cheers!

Comments (10)

Nov 17, 2021 - 8:41pm
D.O.U.G., what's your opinion? Comment below:

Excellent.

Aussie market is liquid (shout out to Loy Yang!)

India is mostly short term.

Brazil and Central America have decent spot markets.

If you REALLY want to get ugly, the pan-African market is the wild west and completely illiquid.  (Kenya, Ethiopia, Egypt, etc).

Obviously, South Korea and Japan are the most mature.

Namaste.

D.O.U.G.

  • 1
Nov 18, 2021 - 6:40am
crab_buckets, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Hey D.O.U.G., thanks for replying!

Funny that you mention Loy Yang, I worked at one of them for a bit! How do you know about coal fired power stations in Australia? Do you trade the NEM?
Wild west sounds like my kind of deal. Truthfully don't know much about the African markets, but it might be interesting to see how more interconnectors / more renewables will contribute to their development. Could be an exciting region to get involved in for sure, will have to keep my eye out.

After doing a bit more research, I get the vibe that trading houses involved in international markets seem to do all their trading from one location (typically Europe). Do you know if traders get deployed to the location of the markets they trade, or is that not really a thing in power? 

Nov 18, 2021 - 10:48am
D.O.U.G., what's your opinion? Comment below:

I sold Citipower back in the day.

The way to think about it is this.  Europe trades Europe and Africa.  North America trades NA.  South America is SA.  Asia is home country or Singapore / Tokyo.

https://www.esmap.org/sites/esmap.org/files/BN004-10_REISP-CD_South%20African%20Power%20Pool-Transmission%20&%20Trading.pdf

https://japanesepower.org/

Namaste.

D.O.U.G.

  • 1
Nov 18, 2021 - 6:54pm
crab_buckets, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Oh cool, thanks for those links. Reading through the SAPP report now.

Looks like I'll have to aim for Singapore or Europe. Not as far off the beaten track as I was hoping but would still be an interesting experience :)
The goal at the moment is to rack up a couple years of experience on a spot or forward desk here, then see if I can land a gig overseas. Not sure how feasible this plan is but at least it's something to work towards!

Thanks for your input :)

Nov 18, 2021 - 7:56pm
marcellus_wallace, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Think DOUG answered mostly hes on point. But yah basically nonexistent most places since the market is not mature enough. Brazil is the most exotic place. Like I do not think non-locals even can get into the Asian markets.

Would say the BD side possibly has more but then you basically working in energy development and not trading.

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Nov 19, 2021 - 6:09am
crab_buckets, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Hey marcellus, thank you for your response. 

Yeah it looks like my options are a bit constrained when it comes to power markets. It's a pity, I thought my willingness to live somewhere remote would be an advantage in my career but that doesn't seem to be the case. Do you know if the situation is the same with gas? I've actually received an offer for a gas trading analyst role at a utility, but I'm not sure if that is much better than power in terms of potential for international exposure. Maybe I could use it to pivot to LNG? I figure the bulk cargo nature of LNG might provide more opportunity for travel to different plants around the world - really not sure, just trying to identify some options lol.

Most Helpful
Nov 19, 2021 - 8:30am
marcellus_wallace, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Gas hubs are dubai/singapore/london for the most part. For sure there is some more fringe opportunities out there. Issue is you probably dont want those fringe opportunities. Truly a couple firms like Trafigura for instance ask how flexible someone is in their career since they love ultimate flexibility. So I wouldnt so much say go for the fringe opps just for different lifestyle locale instead target the major firms since they are the ones who do this stuff, know you will have the credit/experience behind you and in your interviews/networking really push you are super flexible like super duber flexible like if you want to buy an LNG terminal in Africa overnight I am your guy.

  • Associate 2 in AM - Equities
Nov 19, 2021 - 6:24am

I'm not from energy background but can talk to the relocation points.

If you have any second citizenship (eg I have UK + Aus) it makes it way easier to move. In any case, going to the UK would be easiest coming from Aus. I would aim for 1-2 yrs Aus experience and then directly apply for entry level trading/shift trading roles in the UK. Then once you have some UK/Northern markets experience it would be possible to move between UK, Ireland, Scandinavia, Germany. Maybe Switzerland. This is probably your best bet, realistically. 

Nov 19, 2021 - 10:19pm
crab_buckets, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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