Overview

The North Sea crude market is home to Brent crude and the complex system of derivatives that have grown around it, which in various ways are used as references for much of the crude traded in the Atlantic basin and elsewhere, and underpin the price levels of several other commodities. The daily Argus physical crude price index that derives from the Brent market is called North Sea Dated.

The production volume and trade liquidity of the North Sea Dated basket, which until May 2023 was comprised of North Sea grades Brent, Forties, Oseberg, Ekofisk and Troll (BFOET), have declined since the turn of the century. This fuelled concerns about the Brent complex’s fitness for purpose and led to calls for more crude to be added to the basket. Responding to these calls, Argus devised a method of including US WTI Midland crude in the basket, and in May 2023, this method became the market standard.

Price assessment details


The Argus North Sea Dated price assessment (PA code 0001723) reflects a basket of five North Sea grades: Brent, Forties, Oseberg, Ekofisk and Troll, assessed on a free-on-board (fob) terminal basis, as well as US WTI Midland crude assessed on a cif Rotterdam basis, netted back to a virtual North Sea fob price. Argus market reporters triangulate the prices of these physical crudes with contracts for difference and forward contracts to arrive at the Argus North Sea Dated price.

This is the daily index to which Argus adds individual grade differentials to calculate many of its outright crude price assessments in the Atlantic basin and some other locations.

The Dated BFOET price assessment (PA code 0039516) reflects the pre-May 2023 North Sea basket of Brent, Forties, Oseberg, Ekofisk and Troll, assessed on a fob terminal basis. Launched in May 2023, it shows how the North Sea benchmark would continue to perform if WTI were not included in the pricing basket, and thereby helps the market adjust to the current North Sea Dated method.

The North Sea Dated + Johan Sverdrup price assessment (PA code 0033119) adds Norwegian grade Johan Sverdrup — with appropriate adjustments for its differing quality — to the BFOET basket. Launched in September 2021, also in response to market demand, this price shows how additional volume and liquidity could be added to the benchmark basket from the regional pool of crudes.

 

Advantages of the Argus North Sea Dated crude price

Market-reflective

Argus methodology is always designed to reflect market practice. These assessments have evolved over time to incorporate market developments and participants have had input into that process through regular engagement and formal consultations. They are intended to capture maximum market liquidity and transparency. Any changes are announced well in advance.

Clear methodology

The Argus Crude methodology is publicly available and always current. Please follow this link to the latest version of this document, in which the Argus North Sea Dated assessment and all of our other crude assessments are explained. Argus editorial and business development staff are also available to answer specific queries on methodology.

Wide usage

The Argus North Sea Dated assessment is used by physical market participants, tax authorities, financial entities and international organisations as a benchmark or reference for the price of crude in Europe, against which other grades of crude around the world can be measured.

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