That's despite a number of factors one could imagine working against it:
- the amount of actual Brent production is not very great any more
- the logistics of physically settling a Brent contract (i.e. actually taking delivery of a cargo of Brent) are pretty complex - the preserve of relatively few specialist energy companies and traders
- the financial aspects of Brent trade are unusually complex, too (relative to other paper-traded commodities)
- the long-time US price-setter - WTI (West Texas Intermediate) has a very aggressive lobby promoting it as the 'world's crude-oil price marker'
- several other countries around the world with strong prima facie cases believe they should be the home of important price-setting markets - hence Dubai Blend and Urals Blend etc.
But it doesn't mean they won't keep trying, and weaknesses in the Brent set-up need to be addressed. It has evolved successfully in several steps over the years, expanding the underlying physical base from just the Brent complex to Brent+Forties complex, then + Oseberg and + Ecofisk, all still broadly similar North Sea grades. However they are all in deep decline; and there has to be at least some material physical base underpinning the settlement of derivatives (maybe not in theory, but certainly in practice).
So the legion commercial interests with a stake in the Brent market had better stay ahead of the curve when criticisms are once more leveled at the technical underpinnings. Based on past successes in this regard they probably will, but complacency could be fatal.
The other weakness which needs addressing isn't technical, it's criminal. Yes, Brent has been subject of index-rigging allegations: probably less serious than LIBOR, but infinitely more troubling than the UK gas index allegations. Yet again I find myself advocating public castration for any proven perps.
Yes folks, Brent is another of those vital markets which make London what it is. We need it to stay that way.