Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Whither dollars for oil?

Iran’s upcoming New Year’s Eve holiday, Nowruz, on March 20, is typically commemorated by a symbolic purging of the home and spiritual representation of creation and fertility. This year, Iran is also celebrating by changing its policy for payment of oil.

Essentially, Iran will no longer accept the U.S. dollar as payment for oil, and instead, will be looking for other currencies and commodities.

The charter of the Iranian oil bourse, a commodity exchange which opened in February 2008, calls for the commercialization of petroleum and other byproducts in various currencies other than the U.S. dollar, primarily the euro, Iranian rial and a basket of other major (non-U.S.) currencies.

While there are three other major U.S. dollar-denominated oil markets in the world, there are just two major oil bourses: the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) in New York City, and the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) in London and Atlanta.

Iran sits on one of the largest oil and gas reserves in the world, and its plan is to develop a fourth oil market where U.S. dollars are not accepted for oil trade. In fact, Iran has proposed the creation of a Petrochemical Exporting Countries Forum (PECF), aimed at financial and technological cooperation. The British newspaper The Guardian cites Iran, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Russia, Qatar and Turkey as potential members. Read More