Platts’ Montepeque Says EU Manipulation Probe Needs Transparency

Jorge Montepeque, global director of market reporting at oil-pricing and news agency Platts, comments on the need for clarity in a European Union investigation into possible oil-price manipulation. He spoke while attending the 17th Asia Oil & Gas Conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, today.

On the European Commission’s oil-price investigation:

“If the objective of the investigation is transparency, then we will say why? Because it’s already transparent. So then you want to start thinking it has to be something else. But we haven’t been told what it is. We haven’t heard from anyone what it is. There are no details. Absolutely no details.”

“The question becomes, many times, is the price right? The price is right. It’s very visible, it’s very transparent. If you want to have a discussion, if you’re talking about one cent here or a cent there, but the price is really, really very open. However, this doesn’t stop many agencies or regulators becoming terribly concerned, sometimes to launch investigations that nobody is very clear about what they are looking for.”

“And I hope very much that in those investigations they can share with us very transparently what is it that they are looking for and who precisely that they are looking at. Because we need as much transparency in government action as we need transparency in the actions by the industry.”

On a proposed EU price-reporting law:

“That law as proposed is extra-territorial, so it will have a worldwide grip in the manner that Dodd-Frank did. It’s fairly ambitious. It’s fairly intrusive. It aims to deem that a generator of a benchmark would be made administrator and would have to be regulated. A supplier of data would be deemed contributor and would be regulated. And the benchmark itself and its use would also be regulated. So it’s very intrusive, very extensive.”

Consumers and trading participants in all commodity markets should “have a proper read and work through your government channels to determine if that’s an environment you want to operate under.”

On regulating media that report on oil markets:

“The question assumes there is a manipulation. One should prove there is a manipulation first and then try to find a solution for the problem if there is one.”

“Should the press be regulated if there is something wrong going on somewhere? I would think the role of press is actually to open up and to speak freely, without any fear of retribution if there is something going on.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Ramsey Al-Rikabi in Kuala Lumpur at ralrikabi@bloomberg.net; Winnie Zhu in Kuala Lumpur at wzhu4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Alexander Kwiatkowski at akwiatkowsk2@bloomberg.net

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