- Platts says the market needs American oil and most traders agree, but the change isn’t without risk.
Alex Longley, Bloomberg
EnergiesNet.com 03 31 2023
What is the oil price? Over the next few weeks, the answer to that question will change in a way that hasn’t been seen for decades.
A huge chunk of the market relies on one number — the Dated Brent price — published every day by S&P Global Commodity Insights, better known as Platts. By early May, that benchmark, which is ultimately linked to ICE Brent futures, will have crude from Texas added to it.
Brent was once a powerhouse of global oil production, but now it’s just a trickle. Some months, particularly during summer maintenance, the number of cargoes plummets, prompting BP Plc to caution one time that prices were suffering “regular dislocations.”
So Platts says the market needs US oil, and most traders agree.
European refiners increasingly use American crude as a mainstay of their diet, so in that sense the shift is logical. Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, US crude and refined-fuel exports have climbed as high as 12 million barrels a day. Five years ago, they were a little over half that amount.
The change isn’t without risk, though. US oil is generally cheaper than crude in Europe — that’s why so much makes its way across the Atlantic.
With Dated Brent used in everything from long-term gas contracts to the crude selling prices of African countries, any big moves after the addition of West Texas Intermediate will have multibillion-dollar ramifications.
Most traders and analysts expect some pressure on Dated Brent prices following the revamp, but just how much is a key unknown.
The first test will be later on Friday, when the expiry of the May Brent futures contract is settled, in part referencing derivatives for June — when delivery of US cargoes will be allowed.
But if the new Dated Brent tells us anything about the market, it’s that oil from the US is only getting more important.
—Alex Longley, Oil Trading Reporter
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— With assistance by Michael Tighe and Mark Burton
bloomberg.com 03 31 2023