Pricing agency Argus plans change in Singapore, Mideast gasoil benchmark

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Commodity pricing agency Argus [Argus.UL] plans to lower the sulphur content of its benchmark gasoil assessments in Singapore and the Middle East from January 2018, a senior company official told Reuters on Tuesday.

This follows a move by rival oil pricing agency S&P Global Platts to make a similar change, also from the beginning of next year, and is in line with a global shift towards cleaner fuels.

Argus is proposing that its free-on-board Singapore and Middle East 10 parts-per-million (ppm) sulphur gasoil price assessments will become the basis against which it prices other gasoil grades.

Argus currently prices various gasoil grades as a differential to 500ppm sulphur gasoil assessments.

“Liquidity in Singapore is shifting away from the current 500ppm gasoil grade to 10ppm, and in our assessment methodology we always look to reflect the way the market actually trades,” said Jim Nicholson, senior vice president of Argus Media in an emailed statement.

As vehicle use increases globally, with Asia accounting for most of the growth, the movement towards cleaner fuel standards to cap sulphur emissions has gathered pace. New refineries are also producing cleaner fuels in larger volumes.

Argus is consulting with subscribers and seeking feedback on the impact of the change, which will most likely happen from the beginning of 2018, Nicholson said.

Argus is accepting comments from customers until May 31.

The company’s customers use the gasoil assessments for various purposes including in physical cargo contracts, hedging and market analysis, he said.

Indian Oil Corp is one client that uses Argus pricing in its gasoil contracts, traders said. But the majority of gasoil contracts in Asia are priced using Platts’ assessments, they said.

Platts will lower the sulphur content of its benchmark gasoil assessments in Asia and the Middle East from Jan. 2, 2018, following consultations with relevant stakeholders last year.

Argus and Platts compete with Thomson Reuters in providing information to energy markets. Platts is a unit of ratings agency S&P Global.

Reporting by Jessica Jaganathan; Editing by Tom Hogue