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The Dubai Mercantile Exchange (DME) is a commodity exchange based in Dubai currently listing its flagship futures contract, DME Oman Crude Oil Futures Contract (OQD). Launched in 2007, the DME aims to become the crude oil pricing benchmark for the Asian market with its Oman Crude Oil contract, like the Intercontinental Exchange’s (ICE) North Sea Brent is to Europe and the New York Mercantile Exchange’s (NYMEX) West Texas Intermediate is to North America.
The choice of the OQD contract as a benchmark was due to several important attributes of the crude oil itself and its infrastructure as opposed to the volume of export in comparison with other Middle East crudes. Firstly, the Omani crude oil is not subject to OPEC production quotas and/or cuts, nor is it subject to destination restrictions. Secondly, the geographical location of the export port Mina al Fahal (operated by Petroleum Development Oman - PDO),in Muscat into the Gulf of Oman, is past the Strait of Hormuz. Other reasons such as the increasing long-term production levels and investments, as well as the quality of the crude, helped tip the balance in favor of that crude to be used as a benchmark.
The DME is located in the Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC), (a financial free zone in Dubai), and is regulated by the Dubai Financial Services Authority. The US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) issued a "No Action Letter" in 2007, allowing US customers to trade DME contracts. The DME has received further regulatory approval in 23 jurisdictions.