Skip to main content

Oil majors and trading firms can start finalizing crude oil deals on a live blockchain-based platform for the first time, in a move that could revolutionize the market.

Commodities trading firms have piloted similar schemes in recent years as blockchain technology has the potential to drastically cut costs in an environment of razor-thin profit margins.

London-based platform Vakt is the first of these to go live, with shareholder Gunvor Group saying it was rolled out on Wednesday, although no trades took place that day.

Story continues below advertisement

Blockchain, the platform behind cryptocurrency Bitcoin, is viewed by many as a solution to trade and settlement inefficiencies, as well as a way to improve transparency and reduce the risk of fraud.

Vakt was created in 2017 by a consortium that includes oil majors BP and Royal Dutch Shell, Norway’s Equinor, global energy trading firms Mercuria Energy Group and Koch Supply and Trading, as well as Gunvor.

These firms will initially be the only users of Vakt but access will be opened up in January next year.

Banks ABN Amro, ING and Societe Generale are other shareholders.

Vakt digitizes and centralizes what was previously a mountain of a paperwork shared between all the parties involved in each deal. It will be linked to another platform launched earlier this year, Geneva-based komgo, which will provide financing including digital letters of credit.

“Vakt is the logistical arm … Once a deal is executed through our book of records, it gets pushed through Vakt. The next leg is the financing and the link-up with komgo gives access to several banks,” said Eren Zekioglu, Chief Operations and IT Officer at Gunvor Group.

komgo, which is due to go live before the year end, is backed by a consortium including 10 global banks and most of the Vakt shareholders.

Story continues below advertisement

The financing platform will target the full spectrum of commodities trading, from oil to wheat.

Use of Vakt will at first be limited to contracts for the five North Sea crude grades that are used to set dated Brent, a benchmark used to price most of the world’s crude oil.

In early 2019, the platform plans to include U.S. crude pipelines and barges of refined products like gasoline in northern Europe.

“It’s an exciting time,” Andrew Smith, Shell’s head of trading, said.

“Collaboration with our peers and some of the industry’s key players is the best way to combine market expertise and achieve the scale necessary to launch a digital transaction platform that could transform the way we all do business.”

Report an error
Tickers mentioned in this story
Unchecking box will stop auto data updates
Comments

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • All comments will be reviewed by one or more moderators before being posted to the site. This should only take a few moments.
  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed. Commenters who repeatedly violate community guidelines may be suspended, causing them to temporarily lose their ability to engage with comments.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.
Cannabis pro newsletter