China’s new oil contract signals shift from Brent and US dollarBrent crude has been the global benchmark against which most oil is measured ever since the field from which it draws its name was discovered in the 1970s. The first Brent futures were introduced in 1988 as a way for traders and refineries to smooth out volatile price movements and stabilise the market, which was being increasingly dictated by Middle East producers and the world’s largest consumers in the US.

Initially, the contract only comprised light-sweet crude oil from the Brent field in the North Sea, but then was broadened to include a blend of high-quality oil from 15 different areas in the province. Today, the contract comprises oil from just four fields: Brent, Forties, Oseberg and Ekofisk. Despite declining production in the British side of the North Sea and the start of decommissioning part of the Brent field itself, the contract is still used as a reference against which about two-thirds of the world’s oil is priced. FULL REPORT