ABU DHABI: Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. (ADNOC) is aiming to have its Murban futures contract eventually replace North Sea benchmark Brent whose volumes are declining, an ADNOC executive said on Tuesday.
Intercontinental Exchange Inc. plans to launch a new exchange in the UAE, ICE Futures Abu Dhabi (IFAD), in the first half of 2020 to host ADNOC’s flagship Murban crude grade.
“We want to give the industry Murban as a replacement for Brent crude futures,” Philippe Khoury, head of trading at ADNOC group, told an energy conference in the UAE capital Abu Dhabi.
“We still have to demonstrate that over time the community can trust the crude as a benchmark,” he added.
Oil majors BP, Total, Inpex, Vitol , Shell, Petrochina, Korea’s GS Caltex, Japan’s JXTG and Thailand’s PTT have agreed to become partners in the new exchange.
Vitol CEO Russel Hardy said that it will take time to build liquidity on the new exchange, and that Brent, a basket of different crude qualities, and US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) were very established.
“There is a great deal of different constituents playing in those markets. These things will take time to build up on the exchange here,” he said at the same panel discussion.
“It is right to have that level of ambition but it will take some time to build that level of liquidity,” he said of ADNOC’s plans for Murban.
The new contract will create an alternative benchmark to the most commonly used Middle East standard, the Dubai/Oman benchmark operated by the Dubai Mercantile Exchange (DME) and traded on CME’s electronic platform.
Abu Dhabi’s Supreme Petroleum Council last week approved the launch of a new pricing mechanism for Murban crude as part of ADNOC’s broader transformation strategy. It authorized the state energy firm to remove destination restrictions on Murban sales.
ADNOC plans to implement new Murban forward pricing between the second quarter and third quarter of 2020.
UAE Energy Minister Suhail Al-Mazrouei said earlier on Tuesday that he saw no conflict between his country’s compliance with OPEC output cuts and plans to list Murban.
He said the UAE remained committed to cuts agreed by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, plus allies led by Russia. These countries have since January implemented a deal to cut output by 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) which lasts until March 2020, in an attempt to boost prices.
“I don’t think there is a conflict in floating Murban with the fact that UAE is going to comply with whatever we agree to with OPEC. I am not worried about that,” Mazrouei said.
Murban light crude output is around 1.6-1.7 million barrels per day. The UAE has traditionally sold oil directly to end-users, mainly in Asia, based on retroactive pricing rather than forward pricing used by Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq.
The UAE, the third-largest OPEC producer behind Saudi Arabia and Iraq, pumps around 3 million bpd, produced mostly by ADNOC.