(EnergyAsia, January 21 2011, Friday) — The Dubai Mercantile Exchange Ltd (DME) said it achieved a 35% growth in trading volumes and record levels of open interest last year.

In its annual review for 2010, the company said its Oman contract, known as the DME Oman, remains the world’s largest physically delivered crude oil futures contract, with average daily volumes reaching 2,898 contracts (equivalent to 2.9 million b/d) for the year, and a high of more than 3,000 contracts per day during the fourth quarter.

More than 50 firms currently trade on the exchange, while more than 140 million barrels of crude oil were delivered through the DME during 2010.

The DME said it also set a record for physical delivery in September 2010, with 15.1 million barrels delivered through the exchange during the month, reflecting continued development for the exchange.

Launched in June 2007, DME Oman addresses the growing market need for price discovery of sour crude oil destined for East of Suez markets, while simultaneously bridging the time-zone gap between Europe and Asia.

Today, DME Oman is the explicit and sole benchmark for Oman and Dubai crude oil official selling prices (OSP), the historically established markers for Middle East crude oil exports to Asia Pacific. It is increasingly a transparent mechanism to identify and track the link between supply, demand and price for physical barrels.

Last year, NYMEX, the world’s largest physical commodity exchange and a part of the CME Group, enhanced DME’s role as provider of risk management capabilities through its launch of six Oman-linked swap and option contracts. They include the DME Oman crude oil swap futures, DME Oman crude oil BALMO swap futures, ICE Brent versus DME Oman crude oil swap futures, DME Oman crude oil average price option, Singapore MOGAS 92 unleaded (Platts) versus DME Oman Crude oil swap futures, and Singapore gasoil (Platts) versus DME Oman crude oil swap futures.

Ahmad Sharaf, DME chairman, said: “During 2010, the DME maintained and consolidated its position as the most effective benchmark for crude oil in the Middle East and Asia. At a time when Asian oil markets continue to grow rapidly, overtaking consumption levels in Europe and North America, we are confident that both the importance of the DME Oman contract, and the role that it can play within the global market, will continue to grow still further.”

Thomas Leaver, DME chief executive, said: “The fundamentals on which the exchange is built, together with the ongoing growth in demand for our products and the enduring strength of our target markets, give us confidence that we can continue to develop and build the DME further as we move into 2011.”

The DME is majority owned by Tatweer (a subsidiary of Dubai Holding), Oman Investment Fund and CME Group. Its other shareholders include global financial institutions and energy trading firms such as Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, Morgan Stanley, Shell, Vitol and Concord Energy.