It’s that time of year again – with the holiday season almost upon us, it’s time to take a moment to reflect on another year gone by.

And this year in ZE, we’ve decided to go one step further and share our thoughts and views on what we think are the top stories to impact the energy  sector in 2012.

In the run up to the holiday season, we take a look back at some of these stories and will post them right here on our blog over the coming weeks.

Hiking up the Fiscal Cliff

In the first of our four-part series, ZE Business Analyst Ian Mathieson will look at the year-long scramble up the fiscal cliff and will try to unravel its impact on the energy market. As the global economic crisis shows little signs of abating – with investors continuing to flee the stock and bond markets – Ian will also consider what will happen if a deal is struck or, even more significantly, it is not.

Oil and the Middle East and North Africa

Next in our series, I will take a closer look at how continuing political upheavals in the Middle East during the year have started to take its toll on oil security in the region and its impact on European prices in particular. Also, is there a shift between world’s two superpowers and their dependency on oil in the Middle East? As North America begins to revel in the wake of increased oil and gas domestic supplies, China has started to look more closely to the region for oil imports, and in an uncharacteristic gesture, extend its diplomatic influence there.

Dodd-Frank Leads to Increased Data Requirements

Following this, Ian will put the Dodd-Frank Act under the spotlight, accessing its impact on the energy industry in the US and beyond. The act, which has expanded federal financial regulations, received much attention during this year’s US presidential campaign when candidate Mitt Romney pledged to repeal it. With Obama’s re-reelection, energy companies are now assured they must comply with the act or face the repercussions.

The Changing face of Energy Trading

In our final blog of the series, I will take stock of the changing face of energy trading as we know it. A number of notable shifts have emerged since the start of the year. For one, heavier regulations and shrinking profits by the banks and other financial institutions have resulted in a mass exodus of their top traders who are unhappy with the status quo. Attracting even more interest in the sector presently is the rapid growth of trading houses –the next dominant power brokers in an ever changing energy landscape.

This series will be published over the coming weeks. To stay informed you can visit us here on our blog or follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.