BP called on Tuesday on European regulators to refrain from imposing stricter capital requirement and greater disclosure measures on oil trading, saying they could ultimately hit consumers.
The head of BP's trading division, one of the most active and biggest among oil majors, Paul Reed, told the FT Commodities Summit some markets could be exposed to severe stresses if companies and trading houses were forced to disclose too much.
European authorities will implement a set of regulations known as the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (Mifid II) in 2017, which contains capital requirement directive (CRD IV) aimed at cutting systemic risks across equity, fixed income and commodity markets.
"To do so (impose capital requirements) would be disproportionate as it would lead to a series of material adverse impacts on energy markets, energy consumers and the real economy without any correspondent improvement on the risk profile or the integrity of the financial markets," said Reed.
His BP supply and trading division employees hundreds of people and trades millions of barrels of oil and refined products per day.
Earlier this year, trading house Trafigura funded research which said the proven resilience of trading houses has shown there is no need to put them under capital requirement regulations.
The report said that if Europe decided to slap new capital requirements on traders, they would be forced to shrink and deleverage, ultimately making commodity prices more expensive.
Reed said the entire commodities trading industry would need to tie up dozens of billions of dollars in additional capital under new requirements instead of investing - in the case of BP in oil exploration and modernisation of refining assets.
"I would argue that unlike financial institutions the value of industrial commodity physical assets eliminates almost entirely any systemic risk that might arise from commodity trading," Reed said.
Other measures that keep worrying traders and could ultimately backfire are the requirements to disclose proprietary information as well as the introduction of position limits in various commodities markets, said Reed.
"Consider for example a unit falls over here at any Swiss refinery. The owner would be required to announce this event before their risk managers enter the market to make up for the product shortfall. Therefore the price of diesel and gasoline would rise severely in anticipation of that sudden demand.".
He also said that if position limits were introduced some markets with a traditionally small number of participants would go through a severe stress.
"I'm not sure the Spanish AOC gas market for example would be able to survive if participation were limited from holding any more than 25 percent of available contracts," Reed said.
By Dmitry Zhdannikov and Silvia Antonioli