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ICE to launch Murban futures contract on new Abu Dhabi exchange

Dubai — The Intercontinental Exchange will launch a futures contract in the first half of next year on a new Abu Dhabi exchange for Abu Dhabi National Oil Co.'s flagship Murban crude oil.

The ICE Futures Abu Dhabi will be set up in Abu Dhabi's financial free zone the Abu Dhabi Global Market, and will host the futures contract that will be a physically delivered contract with delivery at Fujairah in the UAE on a free on board basis.

The step follows last week's approval of the Supreme Petroleum Council of Abu Dhabi to launch the much-awaited futures contract of the light sweet oil, which accounts for more than 50% of the UAE's estimated 3 million oil output.

The SPC also removed destination restrictions on Murban and announced plans to move from retroactive to forward pricing for the crude from next year, key steps for the launch of the futures contract.

"With the launch next year of ICE Futures Abu Dhabi, Murban futures will sit alongside the most significant global oil benchmarks, providing the opportunity for the first time for a much larger group of participants to trade and hedge Murban in a regulated, transparent and accessible venue," said Jeffrey Sprecher, chairman and CEO of ICE, in a statement Monday.

The listing of the Murban contract would be the biggest change in Middle East crude pricing mechanism in years.

The contract will be the second physically delivered futures contracts traded on a regional exchange after Dubai Mercantile Exchange's Oman crude futures.

Murban is also a deliverable grade in the Platts benchmark Dubai and Oman crude assessment process.

Murban is the main onshore crude grade of Abu Dhabi and is produced by ADNOC Onshore. The Murban concession, which produces approximately 1.7 million b/d of crude oil, is 60 percent owned by ADNOC, with the remaining 40 percent shareholding held by the other partners -- BP, Total, INPEX of Japan, GS Caltex of Korea, CNPC and Zhenhua of China.

-- Dania Saadi, newsdesk@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Aastha Agnihotri, aastha.agnihotri@spglobal.com