Statement of Support of Chairman Timothy Massad on the Final Interpretation Concerning Embedded Volumetric Optionality
May 12, 2015
I support the staff’s recommendations to finalize a proposal we made in November regarding contracts with embedded volumetric optionality – a contractual right to receive more or less of a commodity at the negotiated contract price.
As I said in my statement on the proposal, with reforms as significant as these, it is inevitable that there will be a need for some minor adjustments. And that is what we are doing. The changes we are proposing today help ensure that as we regulate the potential for excessive risks in these markets, we make sure that the commercial businesses—whether they are farmers, ranchers, manufacturers or others—that rely on these markets to hedge routine risks can continue to do so efficiently and effectively.
Specifically, we proposed to clarify when a contract with embedded volumetric optionality will be excluded from being considered a swap. We received a number of comments on this and we have incorporated some of the concerns in the final clarification. Today, following action by the SEC last week, we are posting to the Federal Register the final interpretation. By clarifying how these agreements will be treated for regulatory purposes, the interpretation should make it easier for commercial companies to continue to use these types of contracts in their daily operations.
In certain situations, commercial parties are unable to predict at the time a contract is entered into the exact quantities of the commodity that they may need or be able to supply, and the embedded volumetric optionality offers them the flexibility to vary the quantities delivered accordingly. The CFTC put out an interpretation, consisting of seven factors, to provide clarity as to when such contracts would fall within the forward contract exclusion from the swap definition, but some market participants have felt this interpretation, in particular the seventh factor, was hard to apply. In some cases, the two parties would reach different conclusions about the same contract.
Today we are finalizing clarifications to the interpretation that I believe will alleviate this ambiguity and allow contracts with volumetric optionality that truly are intended to address uncertainty with respect to the parties’ future production capacity or delivery needs, and not for speculative purposes or as a means to obtain one-way price protection, to fall within the exclusion.
Last Updated: May 12, 2015