Oil majors including BP and Total, trading house Vitol and Asian energy companies have partnered with Abu Dhabi National Oil Company to set up an international futures exchange for Murban crude.
Intercontinental Exchange Abu Dhabi will be based at the Abu Dhabi Global Market, the capital's international financial centre. Companies that signed the partnership include Thailand's PTT, Japan's JXTG and Inpex, BP, France's Total, South Korea's GS Caltex, PetroChina, Anglo-Dutch major Shell and Vitol.
"We are witnessing in the oil and gas industry a piece of history," said Bob Dudley, BP's departing chief executive, at the signing of the agreement.
“Murban has the characteristics to be a great new crude benchmark,” he said.
On Sunday, the exchange operator from Atlanta said it was launching a new exchange to list crude futures for Murban, which accounts for 50 per cent of the UAE's production and flows at approximately 1.7 million barrels per day.
"We have all agreed to be a part of ICE Futures AD, also known as IFAD. One that we think is going to create a regional centre for price discovery of crude oil," said Jeffrey Sprecher, founder and chief executive of Intercontinental Exchange, and also chairman of the New York Stock Exchange. "This global market is quite unique in that it has already adopted English law."
State-owned Adnoc received the green light last week from the Supreme Petroleum Council to list Murban on an international exchange. The company currently uses a retroactive pricing mechanism for crude.
The forward pricing mechanism on Murban crude will be implemented between the second and third quarters of 2020.
"The Murban futures will enable our customers to hedge in the open market," said Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Adnoc Group chief executive and UAE Minister Of State.
“In our view this is bold, this is a historic step in the right direction, it will help cement the position of Abu Dhabi as a true hub. Murban accounts for 50 per cent of the UAE’s crude oil production. The oil market is very ready for Murban, which has significant flows into Asia, for a new independent exchange in Abu Dhabi to address global challenges,” he said.
Ahmed Al Sayegh, executive chairman of ADGM and also a UAE Minister of State, said the development “marks momentous progress within the energy industry and adds new vibrancy to the capital markets of the UAE and wider Middle East region”.
The SPC also lifted restrictions on destinations for the sale of Murban. Brent is the most widely-used benchmark for crude and is based on production from the North Sea, which is currently in decline. Around two-thirds of all crude contracts globally reference to Brent. In the Middle East, Saudi Arabia – the world’s largest oil exporter – uses the Oman crude price quoted on the Dubai Mercantile Exchange.
DME is a joint venture between the world's largest futures exchange, CME Group, Dubai Holding, Oman Investment Fund and a number of banks and oil majors. It is based at the Dubai International Financial Centre.