China will release its futures contracts on crude oil on March 26th. The country has ambitions to exert a greater impact on world prices by offering an alternative to Brent and US light crude oil.
After “careful preparation”, these futures contracts will be launched and will be quoted on March 26 on a Shanghai-based futures market, according to the Chinese Financial Regulator (CSRC).
The country is considering releasing its own oil contracts to have more weight in the oil markets. According to Chinese media, these contracts are expected to be open to foreign investors and traded in yuan.
One of China’s target is to accelerate the transformation of the yuan into an international currency, although the continuing drastic constraints on its convertibility are stopping its rise.
China overtook the US last year and became the world’s largest importer of crude oil. The January increase reached 20% annually to a record 40.64 million tonnes as a result of increased demand from independent refineries.
Russia has greatly increased its exports of oil to the Asian giant, and a new pipeline from Siberia to China started operating in early January.
Natural gas imports into China are also rising – 33% in January, as a result of increased demand after the phasing out of coal heating in some areas as part of the fight against air pollution.