On September 6, the CFTC’s Market Intelligence Branch (MIB) issued a report that analyzes activity in the NYMEX WTI futures contract.  The report highlights research findings from recent analysis of activity in NYMEX WTI futures contracts as U.S. crude production from tight oil has grown.  CFTC staff analyzed futures trading volume and open interest across all listed expirations from January 2003 through March 2018.  In particular, CFTC staff found that:

  • As a whole, volume and open interest in the contract remains robust;
  • At a more granular level, open interest in futures contracts for delivery five or more years into the future has declined;
  • The decline in open interest of NYMEX WTI contracts for delivery five or more years in the future has been primarily due to structural changes in physical crude oil caused by the growth of U.S. tight oil production; and
  • The overall price level for oil and developments in financial regulation may have had a secondary effect on open interest for NYMEX WTI contracts for delivery five or more years in the future.

This report is part of a series of MIB reports analyzing current and emerging market issues to assist the CFTC in making informed policy.  MIB staff will publish additional reports on issues of current market interest, such as market liquidity and volatility.