China's plan to launch crude oil futures on March 26 will enable it to develop its own benchmark for oil pricing in addition to current global benchmarks, said Jonty Rushforth, senior director of the energy price group at S&P Global Platts, an energy industry information service provider.
The move will help boost the yuan's global use and increase the trade of yuan-denominated oil contracts, but all that will depend on how the market chooses to go, he said.
"If more people choose to trade on the Shanghai Futures Exchange from outside China, that could indeed help solidify the position of the renminbi more closely to the international oil market," he said.
"The will of the Shanghai Futures Exchange is there, and if they are persistent in carrying on in the long term and become flexible and willing to experiment in structures, they could well be very successful."
Preparations for the launch of the oil futures at the Shanghai International Energy Exchange have almost been completed, according to the China Securities Regulatory Commission.
However, while the move will give the country greater pricing power over commodities and enable it to develop its own benchmark for oil pricing in addition to current global ones, including the Brent and WTI futures, Rushforth said it could take time before the country's new oil futures challenge the dominance in oil trading of the two current global benchmarks.
"These things don't change overnight, as the petrol dollar system has been around for many decades, and the reality is there is so much trading and price exposure in the oil market in dollars in place," he said.
"It's a challenge for the futures contract that it's priced in renminbi not dollars, but we also need to remember the oil market is international and real changes are up to the market participants."
As the Asia-Pacific region has surpassed America and Europe in crude consumption, China's crude futures contract also offers companies a hedging tool that better reflects market conditions in Asia, he added.
S&P Global Platts also announced that it will publish daily assessments on a CFR (cost and freight) North Asia basis for 11 types of crude with effect from March 26, to reflect growing market interest in the value of crude oil from around the world delivered to buyers in China, Japan and South Korea.
Platts will publish assessments for six Middle Eastern crudes, two US grades, one Russian grade, one North Sea grade, and one West African grade.
"These new CFR North Asia assessments will help market participants better analyze the competitiveness of crude flows that increasingly feed the demand of buyers across the region, particularly in high-growth demand centers such as China, and core refining and consumption countries such as Japan and South Korea," said Vera Blei, global director of oil markets at S&P Global Platts.