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Shell Amends North Sea Crude Contract in Line With Platts Change

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March 20 (Bloomberg) -- Royal Dutch Shell Plc amended a clause to its contract for trading North Sea crudes to match changes made by Platts, the publisher of the Dated Brent benchmark that is used to price more than half the world’s oil.

The price of Brent crude, one of the four streams that comprise Dated Brent, will no longer be adjusted to take its superior quality into account, Shell said today in a statement on its website. This means that only Ekofisk and Oseberg will be subject to a quality premium, or so-called escalator, for North Sea cargoes delivered from June, Europe’s largest oil company said. The amendment is in line with changes to its methodology announced last week by Platts, a unit of McGraw-Hill Cos.

The modifications aim to increase liquidity in Dated Brent trades at a time when North Sea production is falling. Shell is the custodian and creator of the so-called SUKO 90 contract, which since 1990 has acted as an industry standard for the trading of North Sea Brent Blend crude, or Dated Brent.

“Shell has further updated its SUKO 90 terms and conditions to reflect the consensus reached in the market since we published our proposed changes on February 8,” Ross Whittam, a London-based spokesman at Shell, said by e-mail.

The fourth crude grade in the Dated Brent benchmark, Forties, is already subject to a de-escalator, which reduces its price, depending on its sulfur content. Sellers currently have to pay 35 cents a barrel for every 0.1 percentage point of sulfur on Forties with more than 0.6 percent sulfur.

Benchmark Price

Forties is the most abundant and cheapest of the four grades that are together known as BFOE. It typically determines the benchmark price.

“The introduction of quality premiums offers an incentive for more deliveries of Oseberg and Ekofisk, and thus has the potential to further gird the supply of oil underpinning the BFOE complex and the Dated Brent price assessment,” Dave Ernsberger, Platts’s London-based global editorial director of oil, said on March 15.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rupert Rowling in London at rrowling@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Justin Carrigan at jcarrigan@bloomberg.net

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