"Wall Street refiner” is a term that began in 1987-88, when Wall Street financial institutions became involved in the oil business. Wall Street has no refineries, of course. Firms such as Morgan Stanley, Salomon Brothers and Goldman Sachs were well known “Wall Street refiners” for selling oil derivatives.
Wall Street Refiner
A Wall Street investment firm that trades crude oil and oil products on a scale similar to large oil companies. Such firms do not own oil refineries and do not take delivery of oil.
Google News Archive
17 July 1988, Manila Standard. “World crude oil prices firmer,” pg. 10, col. 3:
Traders said the US operators notably the “Wall Street Refiners”—big financial institutions which have become increasingly involved in oil trading in recent years—have been selling contracts on the gasoline futures markets and balancing positions by buying on the crude oil futures markets.
Google News Archive
13 February 1989, Sydney Morning Herald, “Oil traders tip price fall,” pg. 30, col. 5:
Influential forces in the oil market are now the Wall Street refiners—firms such as Morgan Stanley, Salomon Brothers and Goldman Sachs. Best known for investment banking and securities trading, these firms have become powerful participants in the oil business and will be well represented at this week’s London meetings.
The Oil Market in the 1990s:
Challenges for the new era : essays in honor of John K. Evans
Edited by Robert G. Reed, Fereidun Fesharaki and John K. Evans
Boulder, CO: Westview Press
... brought in almost all the remaining holdouts among the larger US companies, more foreign participation, and a new group of traders — the “Wall Street Refiners” — companies like Morgan Stanley and Bear Stearns, which were attracted by the rising volatility of oil prices and the speculative opportunities presented by that price instability (particularly relative to other markets).
New York (NY) Times
The Gulf Crisis Forces a Diminished OPEC to Face Reality
By YOUSSEF M. IBRAHIM
Published: December 16, 1990
Among these other players are the so-called paper traders, or “Wall Street Refiners” as they are known in oil circles.
These speculators never buy oil directly but instead bet on its value, trading contracts for future shipments based on snippets of news and rumors about what OPEC plans to do, or whether war in the gulf is imminent.
Trading in Oil Futures and Options
By Sally Clubley
Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press
The last ten years have seen the emergence of a new type of trader: the Wall Street refiners. They were given this name when the US investment banks set up oil trading arms to deal in oil derivatives in much the same way as they deal in other financial instruments. They are assuming the risk for a number of companies involved in the oil markets and laying these risks off in the physical or future markets in the same way as an insurance company does in other sectors. Several of them also take substantial outright positions in their own right. They have been in existence since around 1987 and made an immediate impact on the oil industry worldwide.
The Oil Drum: Europe
The oil ‘peak’ has been reached
Posted by Luis de Sousa on September 29, 2010 - 9:28am
This long term structural change, deriving from the scarcity of this commodity and growing geopolitical risks (including those of navigation through strategic straits), has been further changed, in recent years, by what was dubbed the “financialization” of the crude futures market. This happened when financial speculators nicknamed “Wall Street refiners” entered the marketplace, buying and selling “paper barrels”, causing an additional disturbance in the market, with sometimes “wild” oscillations.
New York City • Banking/Finance/Insurance • (0) Comments • Tuesday, June 14, 2011 • Permalink