THE OIL Council’s gala dinner was a slick affair, with commodities executives summoning the energy to fly in from the world’s exploration powerhouses: Houston, South Africa, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait and, last but not least, Aberdeen.

The 650 oilmen were among the first to take advantage of the Tower of London’s semi-permanent marquee, erected over the moat for the Christmas corporate entertaining season, for their black-tie “oil meets money” event that brought together bankers, oil executives, lawyers, investors and private equity names.

At the top table was Lord Browne of Madingley, the former chief executive of BP-turned managing director of private equity energy specialist Riverstone Holdings, who gassed about what was in the pipeline with Julian Mylchreest of Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Tim Chapman of RBC Capital Markets and Carl Hughes of Deloitte.

Browne outlined how the industry can better collaborate to manage risk in his evening’s speech – but not even the Sun King can control the sector’s wildly fluctuating share prices, said The Oil Council’s CEO Ross Campbell. “There is funding, there are deals and there have been some good discoveries of late,” he said. “But investors are very risk conscious and equity prices are still volatile.”

FORMER Tulchan spinner Andrew Honnor is now in the “final trimester” of his nine-month non-compete period before he can launch his new financial PR business – so The Capitalist thought it was time for a chat.

Obviously, Honnor can’t be seen to be marketing the new venture before his gestation time is formally up in mid-February. But he did let slip that the new company will be called Greenbrook, after Honnor’s home in Brook Green, and it will be based in a small office near Bond Street, specialising in private equity, hedge funds and “special situations”.

Something the man who has whiled away his non-compete time in News International’s crisis-managing comms team knows all about. “It has not been dull, put it that way,” said Honnor on his months with James “Leveson inquiry” Murdoch and the gang.

MOVE over Monte Carlo – The Capitalist hears an “extremely high-end” poker game is taking place tomorrow night at The Savoy. The evening of gambling for a good cause is being organised by the Quintessentially Foundation, the philanthropic arm of City concierge service Quintessentially, and players include comedian David Walliams, Zac Goldsmith and female poker champion Liv Boeree. To join the Texas Holdem game, held in aid of SOS Children, email emma@quintessentiallyfoundation.org