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Delivery Points: Understanding, Examples, and Best Practices

Last updated 05/27/2024 by

Silas Bamigbola

Edited by

Fact checked by

A delivery point in futures contracts determines where the physical commodity underlying the contract will be delivered. This location impacts the net delivery price and costs associated with transporting the asset. While many futures traders speculate without intending to take delivery, those who do may seek to lock in prices for production inputs. Understanding delivery points is crucial for managing risks and costs in futures trading.

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Introduction to delivery points

In the world of futures trading, understanding delivery points is essential for anyone engaging in the physical delivery of commodities. When a futures contract reaches its expiration date, the buyer who maintains their position must be prepared to accept delivery and pay the agreed-upon price for the physical commodity.
Delivery points are critical components of futures contracts as they determine where the underlying asset will be physically delivered. This article will delve deeper into the concept of delivery points, their significance in futures trading, examples of delivery points for various commodities, special considerations, and more.

Understanding delivery points in futures trading

The delivery point specified in a futures contract can significantly impact the net delivery price or cost of the underlying asset. Factors such as storage and transportation costs contribute to the overall value of the goods delivered. Therefore, selecting an appropriate delivery point is crucial for both buyers and sellers in futures trading.
While most participants in the futures market trade speculatively and do not intend to take delivery of physical commodities, understanding delivery points remains vital. For those who do opt for physical delivery, it entails having the necessary resources to store and market the commodities.

Significance of delivery points

Delivery points play a vital role in determining the price of commodities for contract purposes. Prices of commodities vary by location due to transportation costs, making the selection of a delivery point a critical detail in futures contracts.
For example, the price of gasoline can vary significantly between different regions due to transportation costs from oil refining centers to distribution hubs. Similarly, commodities like natural gas, corn, soybeans, live cattle, hogs, and crude oil all have specific delivery points that impact their prices.

Special considerations

When delivery occurs, a warrant or bearer receipt representing the specified quantity and quality of the commodity changes hands from the seller to the buyer. Full payment is made, and the buyer has the right to remove the commodity from the storage location. However, buyers may opt to leave the product at the storage facility and pay periodic storage fees.
It’s crucial to select the commodity delivery point carefully, considering factors such as legal, tax, and regulatory requirements. Domestic and foreign locations may have vastly different legal frameworks, making certain deals impractical or impossible.

Examples of delivery points in different markets

Delivery points vary depending on the commodity and the market in which futures contracts are traded. Here are additional examples of delivery points in various markets:

Energy markets

In energy markets, delivery points are often located at key transportation hubs for the respective commodities. For example:
  • For Brent crude oil futures, delivery typically occurs at terminals in the North Sea, such as Sullom Voe in the United Kingdom.
  • Natural gas futures traded on the NYMEX often have delivery points at major pipeline interconnections, such as the Transco pipeline system in the United States.

Agricultural markets

Agricultural futures contracts also have specific delivery points tailored to the nature of the commodity. For instance:
  • Delivery points for wheat futures may include grain elevators located along major railways or waterways for efficient transportation.
  • Coffee futures may specify delivery points at warehouses near major ports to facilitate international trade.
These examples illustrate the diversity of delivery points across different commodity markets and highlight the importance of selecting appropriate locations for physical delivery.

Factors influencing delivery point selection

When determining a delivery point for futures contracts, several factors come into play. Here are some key considerations:

Transportation infrastructure

The availability and efficiency of transportation infrastructure play a crucial role in selecting a delivery point. Markets with well-developed transportation networks, including roads, railways, and ports, may offer more options for delivery points.

Storage facilities

Access to adequate storage facilities is essential for commodities that require warehousing before delivery. Delivery points with sufficient storage capacity can help ensure smooth transactions and minimize disruptions in delivery logistics.
By considering these factors, market participants can make informed decisions when selecting delivery points that best suit their trading needs and objectives.

Regional variations in delivery points

Delivery points can also vary regionally within the same market, reflecting differences in supply chains, regulatory environments, and logistical considerations. Here are some examples of regional variations in delivery points:

Global oil markets

In global oil markets, delivery points can differ based on the origin of the crude oil and regional demand patterns. For example:
  • For North American crude oil futures, delivery points may include storage facilities in Cushing, Oklahoma, for West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil, while Brent crude oil futures may have delivery points in locations such as Rotterdam, Netherlands, or Sullom Voe, United Kingdom.
  • In Asian markets, delivery points for crude oil futures may be situated closer to major refineries in Singapore, Japan, or South Korea, reflecting regional consumption patterns.

Grain markets

In grain markets, delivery points may vary depending on crop production regions and transportation infrastructure. For instance:
  • Delivery points for wheat futures in the United States may be concentrated in the Midwest, where the majority of wheat production occurs, while delivery points for corn futures may be spread across multiple states with significant corn cultivation.
  • In international grain markets, delivery points for soybean futures may include ports in Brazil or Argentina, major exporters of soybeans, reflecting the global nature of the soybean trade.
These examples highlight how regional variations in delivery points accommodate the specific needs and dynamics of different markets and contribute to the efficiency of commodity trading.

Technological innovations in delivery point management

Advancements in technology have transformed the management of delivery points in futures trading, enhancing efficiency, transparency, and accessibility. Here are some technological innovations in delivery point management:

Digital platforms

Digital platforms and electronic trading systems provide market participants with real-time access to information on delivery points, including availability, storage capacity, and transportation logistics. These platforms streamline the process of selecting and managing delivery points, reducing manual intervention and administrative burdens.

Blockchain technology

Blockchain technology offers enhanced transparency and security in delivery point management by providing immutable records of transactions and ownership transfers. Smart contracts powered by blockchain can automate delivery processes, ensuring compliance with contractual terms and reducing the risk of disputes.
By leveraging these technological innovations, market participants can optimize their strategies for selecting, managing, and executing delivery points in futures trading.


Delivery points are fundamental to the functioning of futures markets, providing clarity on where physical commodities will be delivered upon contract expiration. Understanding delivery points helps market participants manage risks and costs associated with commodity trading. Whether trading speculatively or intending to take delivery, familiarity with delivery points is essential for success in futures trading.

Frequently asked questions

What is the role of delivery points in futures trading?

Delivery points play a crucial role in futures trading as they determine where the physical commodity underlying the contract will be delivered upon contract expiration.

Do all futures contracts involve physical delivery?

No, not all futures contracts involve physical delivery. While some contracts stipulate physical delivery of the underlying asset, others are cash-settled, meaning that no physical delivery occurs.

How do delivery points affect the pricing of commodities?

Delivery points impact the pricing of commodities by influencing transportation costs and logistics. Prices may vary based on the distance from the delivery point and associated transportation expenses.

Can delivery points be changed after a futures contract is initiated?

Typically, delivery points are specified at the inception of a futures contract and cannot be changed afterward. However, certain circumstances or contractual provisions may allow for modifications to the delivery terms.

What factors should traders consider when selecting delivery points?

Traders should consider factors such as transportation infrastructure, storage facilities, regulatory requirements, and market dynamics when selecting delivery points for futures contracts.

Are there risks associated with taking delivery of physical commodities?

Yes, taking delivery of physical commodities entails various risks, including storage costs, quality issues, regulatory compliance, and market volatility. Traders should carefully assess these risks before opting for physical delivery.

How can technological advancements impact delivery point management?

Technological innovations such as digital platforms and blockchain technology have revolutionized delivery point management in futures trading. These advancements enhance efficiency, transparency, and accessibility in selecting, managing, and executing delivery points.

Key takeaways

  • Delivery points determine where physical commodities will be delivered upon futures contract expiration.
  • Selection of a delivery point impacts the net delivery price and transportation costs associated with the underlying asset.
  • Understanding delivery points is crucial for managing risks and costs in futures trading.

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