Oil Futures 101
Posted By:- Ilan Levy-Mayer Vice President, Cannon Trading Futures Blog
Learn more about oil futures here
Oil futures are contracts that allow traders to buy or sell a predetermined amount of crude oil at a predetermined price and date in the future. They are traded around the world on various exchanges, including the United States, Great Britain, and Asia. In this response, we will compare the different grades of crude oil futures traded around the world.
United States Crude Oil Futures
The most widely traded oil futures contract in the United States is the West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures contract, which is traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX). WTI is a high-quality, light, sweet crude oil that is produced in the United States. It is a benchmark crude oil that is used to price other crude oil grades around the world. WTI futures contracts are deliverable in 1000 Barrel Increments per contract.
Great Britain Crude Oil Futures
In Great Britain, the most widely traded crude oil futures contract is the Brent crude oil futures contract, which is traded on the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE). Brent is a light, sweet crude oil that is produced in the North Sea. It is also a benchmark crude oil that is used to price other crude oil grades around the world. Brent futures contracts are physically deliverable with an option to be settled in cash, with the settlement price based on the average price of trades during the last trading day.
Asia Crude Oil Futures
In Asia, there are several crude oil futures contracts traded on various exchanges. The most widely traded contracts are the Dubai Crude Oil Futures contract, traded on the Dubai Mercantile Exchange (DME), and the Oman Crude Oil Futures contract, traded on the Dubai Mercantile Exchange (DME) and the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE). Dubai and Oman crude oils are medium to heavy crude oils that are produced in the Middle East. They are primarily used in Asian refineries and are priced relative to the Brent and WTI crude oil benchmarks.
Other Crude Oil Futures Grades
There are many other crude oil grades that are traded around the world, including:
- Mars – a heavy, sour crude oil produced in the Gulf of Mexico.
- Bonny Light – a light, sweet crude oil produced in Nigeria.
- Tapis – a light, sweet crude oil produced in Malaysia.
- Es Sider – a light, sweet crude oil produced in Libya.
- Basrah Light – a light, sweet crude oil produced in Iraq.
Each of these crude oil grades has different characteristics, such as API gravity, sulfur content, and viscosity, which make them more or less suitable for different refining processes. As a result, they are priced differently relative to benchmark crude oils such as WTI and Brent.
Oil futures are an important financial instrument that allow traders to speculate on the price of crude oil and manage their exposure to price fluctuations. They are traded around the world on various exchanges, with different crude oil grades serving as benchmarks for pricing. The most widely traded crude oil futures contracts are the WTI crude oil futures contract in the United States, the Brent crude oil futures contract in Great Britain, and the Dubai and Oman crude oil futures contracts in Asia. Other crude oil grades, such as Mars, Bonny Light, Tapis, Es Sider, and Basrah Light, are also traded around the world and priced relative to benchmark crude oils. Understanding the differences between these crude oil grades and their benchmark pricing is important for traders looking to invest in oil futures.
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Disclaimer – Trading Futures, Options on Futures, and retail off-exchange foreign currency transactions involves substantial risk of loss and is not suitable for all investors. Past performance is not indicative of future results. You should carefully consider whether trading is suitable for you in light of your circumstances, knowledge, and financial resources. You may lose all or more of your initial investment. Opinions, market data, and recommendations are subject to change at any time.