The LOI as it is now used is a misunderstood application of poorly informed brokers and traders. A more proper application based on established custom and practice in International trade, going back even to the old medieval "Law Merchant" (Lex Mercantilis) is: Buyer requests a quotation _ in modern usage this is an RFQ/Request For Quotation _ NOT an LOI. Seller may then reply with a Quote. Buyer confirms receipt of quoted prices, and requests an Offer.
Nowadays, to hear many of the oil sellers and operators, particularly their brokers and agents, who are involved in the international open market crude selling, describe it, this document _ called the "Letter of Intent" or LOI, for short _ is not only an essential document for doing crude oil business, but one which every credible person or company engaged in crude buying should always use in initiating a purchase. To many of these operators, not only should crude oil buyers use the LOI to initiate their buying orders, but initiating the purchase order in that manner, they say, has always been the usual way by which credible buyers initiate their purchasing projects, as doing it that way indicates, they claim, that a buyer is "serious" and genuinely committed to making a purchase.