OREANDA-NEWS. Russia's state-run pipeline operator Transneft is working towards finalising and releasing Urals crude loading programmes for the Baltic Sea port of Primorsk earlier than it does now, so that the St Petersburg International Mercantile Exchange (Spimex) could launch Urals futures contracts, Spimex executive vice president Mikhail Temnichenko told Argus.

The exchange's position is that the loading programmes should ideally be released no later than the fifth day of the previous month, he said. Temnichenko added that there are no significant differences in the views of Spimex, Transneft and the government on the issue.

So far, Urals Primorsk loading programmes have been compiled and released in stages: initially, loadings for the first 10 days of the next months are released, then loadings for the rest of the month, and the programmes are finalised and approved by Transneft and Russia's largest oil companies, only a few days before the month starts.

Temnichenko said releasing the programmes no later than the fifth day of the previous month could boost demand for Russian crude.

Spimex plans to launch Urals futures contracts on a FOB Primorsk basis in November, Temnichenko said. According to the plans, a futures contract would expire on the 15th day of the previous month. For example, the last day of trading in January futures would be 15 December.

The Russian parliament could change the law by the end of the summer to allow foreigners to directly participate in trading on Russian exchanges, a Bank of Russia official Pavel Ivanov told Argus. The Bank of Russia, which is the country's central bank, said it hopes the changes will be implemented in time for the launch of Urals futures, according to Ivanov.