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    Pump jacks are seen at the Lukoil company owned Imilorskoye oil field, as the sun sets, outside the West Siberian city of Kogalym, Russia, January 25, 2016

    Putin's Crude Dreams: Russia Ready to Start Pricing its Own Oil

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    President Vladimir Putin’s "dream" of Russia pricing its domestic-produced oil is on the verge of realization, Bloomberg reported.

    The plan includes the creation of an independent oil trading platform, Russia’s own crude benchmark as well as trading oil in rubles.

    The St. Petersburg International Mercantile Exchange (Spimex), the country’s largest commodity exchange, is courting international oil traders to join its emerging futures market. Spimex’s chairman is Igor Sechin, who is also CEO of the Russian oil giant Rosneft.

    The goal is to increase revenues from Urals crude by disconnecting the pricing mechanism from the Brent benchmark. Another goal is to stop quoting petroleum in US dollars.

    "The goal is to create a system where Russian oil is priced and traded in a fair and straightforward way," Spimex president Alexei Rybnikov said in an interview with Bloomberg.

    Russia has long complained about the size of the discount for low quality Urals crude, compared to Brent prices. After oil slumped by half over the past two years Russia is now facing the risk of a growing budget deficit, due to falling dollar oil incomes.

    Having its own futures market would improve Russian oil prices, as well as help domestic companies generate extra revenue from trading, Rybnikov added.

    At the same time, analysts told Bloomberg that now it is too early to predict the success of the initiative.

    The Russian government’s system of approvals for shipping crude from different ports and pipelines could also mean subdued interest from western refiners, because some export volume adjustments could be politically motivated, Ehsan Ul-Haq, senior oil market analyst at KBC Energy Economics, was quoted as saying by Bloomberg.

    The volatility of the Russian ruble, which will be used for futures margins, also has caused concern among companies, he added.

    In order to attract foreign traders, the Russian Central Bank is preparing legislative measures to grant non-Russian companies access to exchange-traded commodities and their derivatives, the bank said in an e-mail. The financial regulator will help Spimex start using futures to price oil for exports.

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    Tags:
    dollar, oil price, energy, ruble, Urals, Brent, Russia
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