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Sour crude index

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This topic contains 1 reply, has 1 voice, and was last updated by  Paul Orlowski 13 years, 2 months ago.

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  • #2869

    Mrityunjay Singh

    Saudi Arabia’s new method of pricing oil bound for the United States reflects the world’s growing reliance on sour crude, which is harder to refine.

    The sour grades of crude may eventually displace tried-and-true light, sweet crude to become a benchmark.

    That could help producers and refiners manage risk as they deal with increasing volumes of higher-sulfur oil, and it may also cut speculators’ influence on oil prices, analysts said.

    Starting in January, Saudi Arabia will price U.S.-bound barrels against the Argus Sour Crude Index of three sour crudes produced in the U.S. Gulf. That will end 15 years of pricing against West Texas Intermediate, the reigning light, sweet benchmark.

    The vast majority of oil futures contracts are based on WTI and Europe’s Brent oil. Sour crude — whose higher sulfur content makes it harder to refine — is meekly represented on exchanges but has come to play a central role in physical oil markets.

    “There’s a growing need for sour crude markers,” said Carl Holland of Energy Trading Solutions. “In my view they will grow to be of equal or greater importance to sweet crude markers.”

    Markets have taken notice since the Saudi pricing decision was made public last month. NYMEX and ICE, the world’s leading energy exchanges, have both introduced new contracts based on ASCI. They begin trading this month.

    “They could be comparable to other benchmarks, including WTI,” said Bob Levin of NYMEX owner CME Group.

    Trading in sour crude would need to reach hundreds of thousands of contracts per day for it to attain benchmark status, which could take years, Levin said. Past NYMEX contracts for sour U.S. crude failed amid low demand.

    But the Saudi move, which analysts said may soon be copied by other major exporters, could spur demand for sour crude contracts. That could gradually change the way oil companies and speculators operate in commodities markets.

    For one, oil producers and refiners could more effectively hedge their growing physical volumes of sour crudes.

    A sour benchmark could share the stage with WTI and Brent, or cut their importance.

    “The declining production base of both WTI and Brent are going to have implications for the reliability of those as benchmarks,” said Craig Pirrong of University of Houston.

    Over time, WTI may remain the contract of choice for many financial investors looking to buy oil futures, while ASCI contracts may hold greater appeal for traders who also deal in physical crude, Energy Security Analysis Inc said.

    As a result, ESAI said, a boom in sour crude trade could help curb financial speculators’ sway over oil prices, bringing markets closer in line with supply and demand fundamentals.

    The article By Joshua Schneyer and Bruce Nichols continues at Reuters


    Paul Orlowski
    Co-founder and Community Builder

  • #5917

    Paul Orlowski

    Gear up guys.

    The Energy Information Administration publishes official statistics from the U.S. Government. Check out their charts showing 25 years of increasing sulfur content. or


    Paul Orlowski
    Co-founder and Community Builder

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