Monday, May 31, 2010

Is Brent Winning Battle of the Indices?

Is London’s Brent Crude winning the battle of the indices? David Peniket, President and Chief Operating Officer of Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) Futures Europe, certainly seems to think so.

Speaking at the Reuters Global World Energy Summit on May 27th, Peniket said, “Brent is the global oil benchmark. Brent is used as the price benchmark for around two-thirds of the world's traded oil. It reflects the fundamentals of the oil market on a global basis and we're seeing Brent used as part of the pricing for oil throughout the world.”

Looking ahead, he added that based on “ongoing” growth in Asia, ICE currently expects Asian market participants to use Brent to hedge their risk rather than other benchmarks.

WTI Volumes traded on the NYMEX are far higher than those of Brent on ICE but Peniket said that from 2008 to 2009 Brent grew by 8% in volume terms while WTI grew 2%. Over Q1 2010, Brent grew by 34% while NYMEX WTI grew by 8%.

He declined comment on when he thought ICE Brent volumes may exceed WTI on NYMEX but said that, “Brent is a seaborne crude; it's at a point of the world where crude oil can move around and it can act as a point of arbitrage between different crude grades. Clearly WTI is an important US benchmark but I don't think it reflects the fundamentals of the global oil market in the way that Brent reflects them.”

Elsewhere in the summit, Reuters reported that top bosses of several leading commodities exchange, including Peniket, expressed their common view that speculation has not caused extreme volatility in oil prices and the efforts by state regulators in various markets are unwise to say the least. That will hardly convince politicians seeking capital and a largely sceptical wider public opinion, most notably in the US.

© Gaurav Sharma 2010. Photo Courtesy © Royal Dutch Shell

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