ME – Mariner Energy, Inc. – News of an explosion on a Mariner Energy-owned platform in the Gulf of Mexico sent shares of the oil and natural gas production company into freefall earlier in the session and pushed options implied volatility on the stock to the highest level in at least one year. ME’s shares fell 16% to an intraday low of $16.92 in the span of approximately 15 minutes before recovering the vast majority of those losses in the 45 minutes that followed. Shares are currently down just 2.9% to stand at $22.67 as of 1:05 pm ET. Reports of the explosion incited frenzied options activity on the stock as investors seemed to expect the worst case scenario was upon them while all-too-recent memories of BP’s disaster came to mind. Options implied volatility on the stock shot up as much as 241.5% from a reading of 22.37% before news of the explosion hit and touched a high of 76.40% post-explosion data. Put options flew off the shelves and overall options volume surged to 46,000 contracts versus previously existing open interest of just 6,547 lots. Puts at the September $20 strike received the most traffic as more than 21,000 lots changed hands there by 1:15 pm ET. Investors appear to be buying and selling equal amounts of the September $20 puts at an average premium of $0.86 each. Some of the 9,200 puts sold at that strike may be the work of traders ditching puts they purchased while in panic-mode earlier in the session. Premium on the September $20 strike puts surged to a high of $4.30 each when ME’s shares were trading at their lowest price of the mini-crisis. If traders purchased the puts at $4.30 they would now only receive $0.40 per contract by selling them just a couple of hours later. Traders also picked up roughly 2,400 puts at the higher September $22.5 strike for an average premium of $1.28 apiece. It will be interesting to see how options trading on the stock will play out as more and more information about the explosion and its potential consequences for Mariner Energy are revealed.
Affiliation: Interactive Brokers
Andrew Wilkinson is the senior market analyst at Interactive Brokers Group, where he provides daily commentary and analysis on U.S. equity options trading throughout the trading day. Andrew provides webinars designed to explain option-related trading scenarios covering futures, fixed income, forex and equities.
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