LONDON (MarketWatch) -- The financial world isn't preoccupied with oil at the moment, not with issues like Goldman Sachs bonuses or Federal Reserve exit strategies to consider.
But it wasn't that long ago that oil was the number-one topic in the market, and should black gold resume prominence, the update on Thursday from a relatively obscure Dutch firm called Vopak /quotes/comstock/24s!e:vpk (NL:VPK 54.19, +2.62, +5.12%) should be eyed.
Vopak is the world's largest independent tank terminal operator, so when it comes to storing oil, liquefied natural gas and the like, they know a few things.
And on Thursday, the group raised earnings guidance for the second time this year.
The reason? There are a few, but the main one is that demand for storing oil is strong.
A major reason to store, rather than sell, oil is if there aren't buyers for it. (Another would be a bet that prices in the future will grow significantly, but the futures complex at the moment is pricing in a 7% rise in 12 months and a 16% rise over five years -- hardly an irresistible siren song.)
Also take a look at what A.P. Moller-Maersk /quotes/comstock/23u!0lqm (UK:0LQM 0.00, 0.00, 0.00%) , the shipping giant, said in its nine-month report on Thursday: "There are no short-term prospects of higher demand for oil and gas transports." About the only good news they reported in the third quarter from that division came as vessels were increasingly used as offshore storage facilities.
And what those European firms are saying tracks with what the admittedly-not-always-truthful OPEC has been maintaining all along -- the market is very well supplied.
And similarly, while the International Energy Agency on Thursday hiked its 2009 and 2010 oil demand outlook, it pointed out that demand for gasoil used in railways and trucks is still pretty weak.
And, as the IEA also pointed out, the current price itself could derail recovery.
What it all suggests is that while demand for oil is certainly on the upswing, fundamentals aren't entirely behind the more than doubling in oil from February lows. Speculators getting ahead of themselves? Nah, it couldn't be.
In a market where oil reached as high as $147 a barrel, predicting prices is a fool's game. But know this -- there's plenty of oil sloshing around without a home.