US refiners are once again calling for a domestic crude benchmark that covers more than the standard gravity and sulfur pairing offered by the existing NYMEX contract. The push is being spurred this time by increasing concentration of shale crudes in the West Texas Intermediate common stream, which have pushed the average API gravity in Cushing – where that contract is delivered – beyond the maximum 42 degrees. That has forced shippers to blend with heavier crude and bottom-of-the-barrel products in order to meet pipeline specifications, which in turn drives down the value refiners can squeeze out of a barrel, AFPM Senior Director of Refining Technology Jeff Hazle said at a Crude Oil Quality Association meeting earlier this month. The COQA advocated changing the specifications at the March meeting. It wasn’t the first time. US refiners requested a change in 2010. At the time, CME said the COQA should focus on changing the physical market first, citing the fact that very few barrels of physical crude are delivered against the futures contract. By 2013, however, CME said it planned to implement additional quality specifications, although that has yet to happen. CME needs backing in the midstream industry, Hazle said. Technically, the
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Source: CTRM Center