Brent crude, the international gauge for oil prices, may be overhauled to reflect the growing importance of U.S. exports in global energy markets. By March 2022, S&P Global Platts is likely to start using crude drilled from wells near Midland, Texas, in setting the price of Dated Brent, a gauge that has historically reflected physical oil prices in Europe’s North Sea. The price-reporting agency on Thursday began consulting market participants on the proposed change, and aims to conclude the review by February.

Since the late 1980s, Dated Brent has acted as the benchmark on which the majority of traded barrels of oil in the world are priced. It also helps to determine prices for the Brent-crude futures contracts that oil producers, commodity traders and investors buy and sell on Intercontinental Exchange Inc.’s marketplace.

For years, however, Dated Brent has faced a major problem. Brent, drilled from underneath the East Shetland Basin off the coast of Scotland, is fast running out. Platts responded by introducing different varieties of crude oil produced in the North Sea into its calculations. Dated Brent has evolved into a basket of crudes, including not just its namesake but Forties, Ekofisk, Troll and Oseberg. But supplies of other North Sea crudes are also depleting alongside those of Brent.

That has led to a situation in which prices for most traded barrels of oil in the world are set with reference to a rapidly shrinking market. Fewer than 10 cargoes of crudes in the Dated Brent basket changed hands in the main Platts trading window each month from August through November.

Shipments of American crude to Europe and elsewhere have ballooned since a four-decade ban on exports of U.S. oil was lifted in 2015. That decision was taken after the advent of fracking technology unlocked vast amounts of oil from under the Permian Basin. Around 443,000 barrels a day of WTI Midland have arrived in Europe so far in 2020, according to Platts.

“The North Sea has moved over the last few decades…from being a core production area to being a core trading area, where you have imports and exports and consumption all going through,” said Jonty Rushforth, senior director at Platts. “U.S. exports have become a mainstay into Europe.”

The U.S. oil-and-gas industry has been battered by the slump in energy demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic, pushing dozens of smaller producers into bankruptcy and leading Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chevron Corp. to slash their spending plans this week. Still, the U.S. is expected to remain a leading producer and exporter of crude in the coming years.

“There’s no reason why WTI shouldn’t be deliverable into Brent,” said Adi Imsirovic, senior research fellow at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies. “Brent desperately needs to get some more liquidity because we’re getting down to those critical levels.”

Others are skeptical that the makeover would create a more reliable reference for the price of oil.

“Brent was a good tool in its day, but it’s being held together with cellotape and chewing gum,” said Liz Bossley, chief executive of Consilience Energy Advisory Group Ltd. and a former North Sea trader. “It’s another piece of chewing gum,” she said of WTI’s potential inclusion.

She favors the creation of an entirely new benchmark.