Top oil hedge funds suffer big losses after July price plunge -sources

NEW YORK, Aug 17 (Reuters) - Two of the world's largest energy-focused hedge funds, Andurand Capital and BBL Commodities, suffered double-digit percentage losses in July as oil prices plunged by the most in two years, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters on Friday.

BBL Commodities Value Fund, run by former Goldman Sachs oil trader Jonathan Goldberg, lost 14.2 percent in July, a person close to the firm said, speaking on condition of anonymity since the information is not public.

Andurand Capital's Commodities Fund lost 15.2 percent in July, bringing the fund's performance to a 5 percent loss for the year through July 31, according to data compiled by HSBC.

Pierre Andurand, who runs the $1.2-billion Andurand Commodities Fund, predicted the rise and subsequent crash in the oil price in 2008 and is known as one of the biggest oil bulls in the market.

Both funds were very bullish heading into July, market sources said, leaving them caught on the wrong side during the oil price slide.

U.S. crude futures last month fell more than 7 percent while global benchmark Brent crude dropped by 6.5 percent, the biggest monthly declines since July 2016.

Prices dropped after OPEC members boosted output in July by 70,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 32.64 million bpd, a high for the year, and pledged to offset any loss of supply from Iran, the group's No. 3 producer, due to looming U.S. sanctions.

Prominent hedge funds such as Andurand Capital and Westbeck Capital Management were betting oil could skyrocket to $150 a barrel thanks in part to the potential loss of Iranian supply. However, physical markets are showing signs of strain as crude builds on ships and weighs on prices for spot cargoes.

"The weak oil physical market is not only due to more OPEC oil on the water. It is mainly due to China destocking. Their low imports are not sustainable. They have been very low for 3 months. Their imports could go back up 2mbd any time now," Andurand said in a tweet late in July.

A spokesman for Andurand declined to comment on July's performance. BBL executives were not immediately available to comment.

Will Smith, Westbeck's chief investment officer, said, "July was indeed a tough month, but we did manage a small positive."

Overall, commodity-focused macro hedge funds are down 1 percent on average in the first seven months of 2018, according to data from industry tracker Hedge Fund Research.

The year to date has been rough for many firms across the industry.

Trading desks of oil major BP and merchants Vitol, Gunvor, and Trafigura have recorded losses in the tens of millions of dollars each as a result of the 'whipsaw' move when U.S. crude's discount to Brent plummeted to more than $11.50 a barrel in June, insiders familiar with their performance told Reuters.

Energy hedge fund Velite Capital, once among the most profitable natural gas trading shops in the United States, is winding down operations, Reuters reported on Thursday.

Sierentz Global Merchants, a commodities trading firm controlled by members of the Louis-Dreyfus family, recently exited its physical energy business, and Texas tycoon T. Boone Pickens' BP Capital shut earlier this year. Last year, trader Andy Hall's Astenbeck Capital Management also began shutting its main hedge fund. (Reporting by Devika Krishna Kumar in New York Editing by Paul Simao)