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The plan to launch China's first crude oil futures contract is facing more roadblocks as the Shanghai International Energy Exchange, or INE, comes under government review, a senior official close to the matter said Monday.

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"The target date to launch the contract will be delayed to the end of this year," the source said. The contract was expected to be launched in the second quarter of 2016 earlier.

The China Securities Regulatory Commission, which oversees future contracts in the country, was reviewing the ownership structure of the Shanghai Futures Exchange as well as its subsidiary INE, the source said.

INE was founded in late November 2013 as a subsidiary of SHFE to handle energy futures trading in Shanghai's free trade zone.

The crude oil futures contract, which will the first that overseas participants are allowed to trade in, will be launched on the INE platform.

Both CSRC and SHFE "are reluctant to see unexpected risks pass through to INE's parent company SHFE. Therefore, they are reviewing how to manage INE and its reporting line," the source explained.


The review procedure for futures contracts was tightened since the second half of last year after the stock market plunge in June. China wants all regulations in place before the crude contract is launched. The CSRC was focusing on the risks of limited storage availability and heavy dependence on crudes from the Middle East.

Driven by strong demand to build stocks amid low oil prices, China's crude storage tanks are almost full, including those INE plans to allocate to store crude traded under the new futures contract.

"No solution for the storage availability yet," the official said.

A source from INE said that there was no update on any change in the deliverable crudes. Based on the existing draft contract, the INE plans to allow physical delivery of seven grades of crude oil: Basrah Light, Dubai, Masila, Oman, Qatar Marine, Shengli and Upper Zakum.

Except for Shengli, which is a domestic grade, all the other crudes are from the Middle East.


Meanwhile, Chu Juehai resigned from INE as CEO recently, according to sources.

His replacement will be appointed by the CSRC, the sources added.

The current INE Chairman, Yang Maijun, was earlier the chairman of SHFE.

He was moved to INE in March 2015 following allegations of overspending on the company's annual party.

The CSRC also got a new chairman in late February when Liu Shiyu replaced Xiao Gang.

--Oceana Zhou,
--Edited by E Shailaja Nair,