Abu Dhabi’s Murban Crude Priced After First Month of Trading

Abu Dhabi for the first time used futures contracts it launched in March to price its benchmark Murban oil grade.

Government-owned Abu Dhabi National Oil Co.’s Murban crude will sell for $63.35 a barrel in June, according to a company statement. That’s down from April’s level of $63.94 for the emirate’s flagship crude.

Abu Dhabi is changing the way it prices its most valuable export, shifting from a retroactive pricing system in place until last year to a new futures market. Along the way, it hopes to bring enough physical and financial trading to the new bourse to convince other regional producers to use Murban as the benchmark for their own crude exports.

The official selling price for Murban is determined from futures trading on the ICE Futures Abu Dhabi exchange, which Adnoc owns along with Atlanta-based Intercontinental Exchange Inc. Murban futures contracts began trading at the end of March, the first step in Adnoc’s plan to establish the grade as a benchmark.

Murban crude for July lifting was down 0.6% at $64.51 a barrel at 11:20 a.m. in Abu Dhabi. Average daily volume for trading in April was 6,625 contracts, ICE said in a post on LinkedIn. Established crude benchmarks like Brent in Europe and West Texas Intermediate in the U.S. each trade roughly 1 million lots daily.

Middle Eastern oil producers generally set pricing for their barrels on a monthly basis, usually by issuing a list of differentials -- a premium or discount buyers apply to a benchmark crude. For years that’s been the price of Dubai barrels as assessed by Platts, the energy news and pricing service of S&P Global Inc.

Futures Pricing

Abu Dhabi and Oman are the only regional producers who sell their crude on a futures exchange. Omani crude futures trade on the Dubai Mercantile Exchange, partly owned by CME Group Inc.

May pricing for Murban and Abu Dhabi’s other three grades is still to be determined and will be set based on trading in Dubai crude as assessed by Platts. Adnoc set June pricing for its other three crudes at discounts of 5 cents to 40 cents a barrel to Murban.

Abu Dhabi is the capital the United Arab Emirates and holds most of the OPEC member’s oil. Murban is its most plentiful grade, making up roughly half of the country’s 4 million-barrel-a-day production capacity.

Saudi Arabia, the top producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, is due to release its official crude pricing later this week.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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