Trading in Brent, WTI futures set new highs in 2017

Trading activity in Brent and West Texas Intermediate oil futures contracts as measured by open interest, or the number of futures contracts opened but not settled, reached new highs in 2017.

Brent average daily open interest reached an all-time high of 2.5 million contracts in May, and WTI reached an all-time high of 2.4 million contracts in September, according to the just-released STEO, Short-Term Energy Outlook, produced by the Energy Information Administration.

All classifications of traders, as defined by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), increased their open interest during the past several years, Kallanish Energy reports.

WTI open interest overtook Brent in September. A contributing factor could be increased hedging among U.S. crude oil producers.

Open interest in short positions (which locks in prices for a producer’s future production) among swap dealers (entities that hedge futures on behalf of oil companies) neared its all-time high for the week ending September 26 at 0.53 million contracts.