Guar Gum Futures Trading in India Resumes on Record Harvest

India, the world’s largest supplier of guar gum, lifted a ban on futures trading in the commodity used by Halliburton Co. to extract shale gas after a rally in prices spurred farmers to produce a record crop.

The National Commodity & Derivatives Exchange Ltd., or NCDEX, and the Multi Commodity Exchange of India Ltd. today began trading three contracts each in guar seed and guar gum, according to separate notices on the bourses’ websites. The Forward Markets Commission, the commodity market regulator, suspended futures trading in March 2012 to curb excessive speculation after prices surged nine-fold to a record.

Production of guar seeds in India, which accounts for more than 70 percent of the global crop, probably reached an all-time high of 2.2 million tons in the year ending June, said Rajesh Kedia, director at Jai Bharat Gum & Chemicals Ltd., the nation’s second-biggest exporter of guar gum. Prices slumped about 70 percent since futures trading was banned, he said.

“As futures have been relaunched with strict guidelines, we hope speculators are kept at bay so that real players take the benefit of price discovery,” Kedia said.

NCDEX will call for a statement of physical stockpiles owned by clients, who hold 75 percent or more of the permitted position limits in any contracts, and clients will be required disclose the source of funds for trading, it said.

Benchmark Price

Guar gum for delivery in June opened at 30,700 rupees ($562) per 100 kilograms (220 pounds) on NCDEX today and closed at 28,150 rupees, while guar seed opened at 10,400 rupees per 100 kilograms and ended at 9,460 rupees. Guar gum rallied to an all-time high of 95,920 rupees on the NCDEX in March 2012, extending gains into a fourth year.

“Futures trading in guar seed and guar gum can effectively provide a benchmark price for the industry in India, and also help the trade and industry functionaries in managing price risks on their spot and forward transactions,” Sumesh Parasrampuria, director for business development at MCX, said in an e-mailed statement.

Guar gum, which means “cow food” in Hindi, is a thickening agent used in ice creams, drugs and in hydraulic fracturing to extract gas trapped in shale.

Halliburton and Baker Hughes Inc. help drill and complete oil and gas wells using a pressure-pumping technique known as fracking, which blasts water mixed with sand and chemicals underground to free trapped hydrocarbons from shale formations. Guar is made into a thickening gel used to carry sand down a well and into the cracks created from the hydraulic fracturing.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.