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How to Buy Brent Crude Oil

Updated March 23, 2017

According to the International Crude Oil Handbook, there are over 200 different types of crude oils available for purchase. These oils vary depending on their chemical composition. Some crudes are "lighter"--less dense--and "sweeter"--less sulphuric--than others. Some particularly well known blends are called "benchmark" crudes, against which other crudes are commonly priced. One of the most popular benchmark crudes is Brent Crude, which is extracted from the North Sea. Brent Crude is available both on the electronic IntercontinentalExchange (ICE) and from the open outcry New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX).

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  1. Identify your crude. There are a number of different options when purchasing Brent crude, depending on when and where you want the crude delivered. The ICE and NYMEX offer clients the ability to buy Brent several years in advance from a handful of locations, all at different prices. Decide which crude you want depending on the needs of your business.

  2. Find a broker. In the United States, only brokers licensed by Financial Industry Regulatory Authority can trade on commodities exchanges. In order to place an order, locate a licensed broker. Some brokerages may be contacted by phone, while others are willing to fill orders online.

  3. Place an order. After identifying the crude you want and a broker willing to fill your trade, give the green light. The broker will attempt to lock in the Brent at the current price, but given the fluctuating nature of oil prices, he may ask you to provide a window of acceptable prices.

  4. Settle with cash or delivery. When your futures contract comes due, you may have the option to take delivery of the oil or, in most cases, settle the contract with cash, meaning the firm from which you have agreed to purchase the crude agrees to buy it back at the agreed-upon price and take delivery themselves.

  5. Find a crude. Rather than buying Brent on an exchange in the form of a derivation, you can purchase Brent for immediate delivery on the so-called "spot" market. While a buyer will likely have fewer options in terms on the spot market than on an exchange, it can be advantageous for those who need Brent immediately or from a location not offered on ICE or NYMEX.

  6. See who's selling. In order to locate available spot market Brent, you must first call around to those companies that traditionally deal in it, such as Royal Dutch Shell. A complete listing of these companies is available in a number of directories, including the International Crude Oil Handbook.

  7. Make a deal. Terms of sale will usually be negotiated over the phone. The price depends on the location of the crude and the going rate of Brent on the exchanges.

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About the Author

Michael Wolfe has been writing and editing since 2005, with a background including both business and creative writing. He has worked as a reporter for a community newspaper in New York City and a federal policy newsletter in Washington, D.C. Wolfe holds a B.A. in art history and is a resident of Brooklyn, N.Y.

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