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Finding favour in oil benchmark battle

Finding favour in oil benchmark battle

Malaysia's Petronas, Delta Air Lines adopt Brent for hedging; ICE Brent volumes cut NYMEX WTI advantage in past few weeks; Goldman Sachs says switch to Brent is "smart" for investors

April 11, 2011 12:39 by

From Kuala Lumpur to Atlanta, Brent crude is gaining momentum as the global oil pricing reference of choice for producers and consumers, bolstering the Intercontinental Exchange in a battle of benchmarks for the world’s most widely traded commodity.

Three months after a blowout in the premium for ICE’s European Brent crude futures over the New York Mercantile Exchange’s West Texas Intermediate (WTI) contract stoked speculation about a shift in liquidity, changes in the way companies hedge have emerged in both the East and the West.

Malaysia’s Petronas this week dropped national crude Tapis as the benchmark for its exports in favour of ICE-related dated Brent. The move dealt a blow to the Dubai Mercantile Exchange (DME), part owned by NYMEX, which has pushed its Oman crude contract as a replacement.

Two weeks earlier, Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines announced it had swapped out its previous jet fuel hedges based on the WTI contract in favour of Brent, which has more closely reflected global gasoline and jet fuel price moves than the U.S. marker.

Trading volume — a measure of a contract’s health and liquidity — tilted toward Brent, although the trend was masked by a slowdown in activity at the end of the first quarter.

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