Petrol exchange still committed to e-trading despite user apathy

The International Petroleum Exchange (IPE) has reiterated its commitment to electronic trading, despite the refusal of most of...

The International Petroleum Exchange (IPE) has reiterated its commitment to electronic trading, despite the refusal of most of its traders to use its ICE trading system, which went live earlier this month.

In the first week after opening trading on its IPE Brent Crude Futures contract, 625,150 trades were conducted on the contract but less than 3% of them were handled electronically. Most of the electronic trades were conducted during "extended hours", when trades could not be made on the exchange floor.

The electronic trading system aims to replace open outcry - the traditional form of pit trading involving shouting deals across the exchange. Most international exchanges have already introduced electronic trading systems.

However, the IPE said the introduction of electronic trading for Brent during traditional trading hours was intended to expand the customer base to non-members, rather than forcing members to switch.

"The major benefit of electronic trading is opening up access to anyone who wants to trade, regardless of their geographical location," said an IPE spokeswoman. "We did not have any set targets for the system - it is only a transitory step towards moving to electronic trading."

Energy traders have been reluctant to move to the ICE system, which was developed by IPE's US parent company Intercontinental Exchange, because they are used to open outcry, the spokeswoman said. However, this will change in time, she added.

"All exchanges are going electronic and this move is about falling into line," she said. "We are sure that traders will begin to move over once they can see there is money to be made by using the system."

In 1998, the IPE scrapped plans to launch an electronic trading system after a four-month review which concluded that the system could lead to a major reduction in trading volumes because of hostility from independent traders.

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