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Urals gets a benchmark

Russia wants a contract for its main export blend. Petroleum Economist talks to the head of the exchange that will offer it

A new benchmark for Russian oil has just 18 months to gain sufficient liquidity amongst international traders to help narrow the discount with Brent, according to Alexei Rybnikov, head of Russia's largest commodities exchange. The launch of a Urals futures contract is expected to go live in late November. The Kremlin has been trying to establish the benchmark for a decade, ever since President Vladimir Putin first said he was unhappy that Russia's crude was sold at such a hefty discount to North Sea Brent. For now, Urals is priced in the physical market at a discount to Brent by pricing agencies, which survey traders and refiners. The discount has halved in recent years from the $5-6-a-bar

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