* Launch may take place before 19th National Congress - source
* Exchange says it is “actively preparing” for launch
By Florence Tan and Chen Aizhu
SINGAPORE/BEIJING, April 18 (Reuters) - China is looking at launching its crude oil futures in Shanghai in the second half of this year, two sources familiar with the matter said, breathing new life into a derivative that was considered shelved only months ago.
The contract is aimed at giving China, world’s second-largest oil consumer after the United States, clout in pricing crude in Asia, and a share of the trillions of dollars in oil futures trade that flow through global benchmarks Brent and West Texas Intermediate.
Shanghai’s International Energy Exchange (INE) last year was close to launching the futures contract, which was approved in 2014 after years of planning, but its plans were shelved after volatility in domestic stock and commodities markets spooked regulators.
The sources were unclear when the contract would actually start to trade.
“In the second half of this year, maybe in September or October,” one of the sources said, adding it could take place before the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, where a change of guard under President Xi Jinping will take place.
The second source said the launch could happen earlier, possibly in July or August.
It was not immediately clear what factors prompted the project’s revival.
An INE spokeswoman did not give a definitive start date, saying, “We are actively preparing and are striving to launch the product as soon as possible.”
Crude oil sold in Asia is mainly priced against the Dubai, Oman and dated Brent benchmarks assessed by S&P Global Platts or the Oman crude futures on Dubai Mercantile Exchange.
Reporting by Florence Tan in SINGAPORE and Chen Aizhu in BEIJING