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BP registers U.S. unit as swap dealer with regulator

Spectators are seen reflected in a British Petroleum sponsors building in Olympic Park at the London 2012 Paralympic Games September 6, 2012
Spectators are seen reflected in a British Petroleum sponsors building in Olympic Park at the London 2012 Paralympic Games September 6, 2012

By Douwe Miedema

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Britain's BP Plc on Wednesday filed to register its U.S. unit as a swap dealer with U.S. authorities, a company spokesman said, becoming the first oil company to face tough oversight of its derivatives business.

Since the beginning of the year, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission requires companies to register as dealers if they trade more than $8 billion in swaps a year.

Reuters reported in March that BP was planning to register but not for several more months, joining roughly 80 investment banks that registered with the top U.S. derivatives regulator.

During the commodity boom in the mid-2000s, large oil companies started offering swaps products to smaller players, speculating on derivative markets in much the same way as investment banks.

But oil traders feared being swept up by a deluge of new rules when watchdogs clamped down on derivatives trading after the crisis to prevent a repeat of the 2007-09 credit meltdown.

However, the energy lobby fought to ensure that the majority of energy companies sidestep the regulatory crackdown. Royal Dutch Shell Plc is the only other oil major considered a candidate to register with the CFTC.

(Reporting by Douwe Miedema; Editing by Diane Craft)

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