March 23 (Bloomberg) -- Platts, a publisher of oil price assessments, may announce a decision this year on widening the basket of crude grades making up its Dubai benchmark, company officials said today.
The Dubai benchmark, a main pricing reference for Middle East crude shipped to Asia, is calculated from the values of three oil grades from Dubai, Oman and the Upper Zakum field in Abu Dhabi.
“A wider basket is critical when there is instability in the region,” Jorge Montepeque, global director of market reporting for Platts, said in Abu Dhabi. Platts plans to add Qatar’s Marine crude to the Dubai marker, he said.
Middle East states are being shaken by anti-government protests that have spread from Tunisia and Egypt over the last three months. In Oman, the largest Arab oil seller not in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, protesters have occupied a traffic circle in the port city of Sohar and held demonstrations at government buildings in the capital, Muscat.
Platts, a unit of New York-based McGraw-Hill Cos., also publishes a separate assessment for Omani crude. Abu Dhabi’s Murban grade could act as an alternative for delivery in case of an interruption in Omani crude exports, Montepeque said.
Murban’s quality is slightly higher than Oman’s, meaning a differential may be used if the Abu Dhabi crude is substituted, said Paul Young, Platts’ Dubai-based oil pricing editor.
Interruptions of exports from Oman could increase the price of the crude. An alternate stream that may be delivered in place of the country’s fuel would help keep the assessed price from rising beyond other regional grades, Montepeque said.
State-run Abu Dhabi National Oil Corp., Exxon Mobil Corp. and Japan Oil Development are partners in the Upper Zakum offshore field. Murban is produced by Adnoc and a group of partners including Exxon. The Dubai Mercantile Exchange trades futures contracts in Oman crude.
Platts also considered adding Qatar’s Al-Shaheen crude to the Dubai benchmark in place of the Marine grade, Montepeque and Young said. Qatar Marine is produced by state-run Qatar Petroleum, which together with partner Maersk Oil Qatar, a unit of A.P. Moeller-Maersk A/S, pumps Al-Shaheen crude.
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