A derivatives contract would give the Shanghai International Energy Exchange, known as INE, a slice of an oil futures market worth trillions of dollars, offering a rival to London's Brent and U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI).
And while others have tried and failed, China brings its might as the world's biggest oil buyer, a strong dose of political will and the alignment of its financial and banking system for a yuan-denominated contract.
"The energy industry is still manned, literally, by people from the West. But the world moves on, and there's a change of guard," said a senior market executive, speaking on the sidelines of a major industry gathering in Singapore this week, at which delegates spoke on condition of anonymity.
"China has become the world's biggest oil trader, and that means that an oil price will be set there, like it or not."
Shanghai's INE is in the final stages of launching crude oil futures, perhaps as early as October, although sources said delays were likely due to market turmoil.
"One-by-one, the oil-majors will start to participate, then others will follow," said an executive with a Western oil major. "While it might take some time to establish itself due to choppy markets and regulatory hurdles as well as the fact that it would introduce a foreign exchange element to crude futures, it is overdue for a Chinese contract to established."