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Japan teams up with CME to develop LNG index, break oil-link

The Middle East crude benchmarks Dubai and DME Oman remained mired in deep discounts of about US$2 a barrel to Dubai swaps on Thursday.

[SINGAPORE] CME Group said on Thursday it will begin development and clearing of a Japanese liquefied natural gas (LNG) contract later this year, as the world's biggest importer of the fuel seeks to break a decade-long reliance on oil-linked pricing.

CME Group, the world's largest futures exchange operator, said it will work with Japan's RIM Intelligence, a provider of energy price and information services, on a non-deliverable forward LNG contract.

Japan, which buys about a third of global LNG shipments, is trying to cut fuel costs and gain more control over prices after the shutdown of the country's nuclear plants in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima disaster pushed demand for gas to record levels.

LNG supply contracts have traditionally spanned decades and are based on the price of oil, the world's most traded energy product.

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The new contract will give importers, including power utilities and city-gas suppliers, an opportunity to hedge risks as Japan prepares to liberalize its power market next year, and could kickstart spot trading of the world's fastest growing energy source.

It will be available for submission to clearing by CME via the Japan OTC Exchange (JOE) and through over-the-counter brokers.