Whenever one talks about the death of the petrodollar, the unspoken question lurking just beneath the surface is this: is the rise of the petroyuan just around the corner?
This year, we’ve gotten quite a bit of evidence to suggest that the answer to that question may indeed be a resounding “yes.” In May for instance, Russia surpassed Saudi Arabia as the largest oil supplier to China and what’s especially notable there is that beginning in 2015, Gazprom began settling all of its crude sales to China in yuan meaning that, at least partly, the petrodollar was supplanted just as soon as its death became inevitable.
Now, just as China has moved to play a greater role in determining the price of gold by participating in the LBMA auction and by establishing a yuan-denominated fix, it’s moving quickly to create a yuan-denominated oil futures contract. Here’s Reuters:
China’s push to establish a crude derivatives contract has been met with early scepticism, but oil executives say the country’s growing economic influence means a third global crude benchmark is inevitable.
A derivatives contract would give the Shanghai International Energy Exchange, known as INE, a slice of an oil futures market worth trillions of dollars, offering a rival to London’s Brent and U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI).
And while others have tried and failed, China brings its might as the world’s biggest oil buyer, a strong dose of political will and the alignment of its financial and banking system for a yuan-denominated contract.
“The energy industry is still manned, literally, by people from the West. But the world moves on, and there’s a change of guard,” said a senior market executive, speaking on the sidelines of a major industry gathering in Singapore this week, at which delegates spoke on condition of anonymity.
“China has become the world’s biggest oil trader, and that means that an oil price will be set there, like it or not.”
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