SINGAPORE- Middle East crude benchmarks Oman and Dubai dropped on Wednesday, as spot premiums for Russian ESPO crude cooled on tepid China demand.
Surgutneftegaz sold three May-loading cargoes of ESPO Blend crude, a China-focused grade, at spot premiums of around $1.8 a barrel to Dubai quotes via its second spot tender this month, traders said.
A day prior, May-loading ESPO crude cargoes changed hands at $2 above Dubai in Surgut's first tender.
Surgut has offered four more ESPO crude cargoes loading May 16-23, May 20-27, May 23-29 and May 27-31 via a tender to be closed later on Wednesday.
Gazprom Neft closed a spot tender to sell one ESPO crude cargo loading May 3-15. The result has not yet emerged.
ONGC closed a tender to sell one Russian Sokol crude cargo loading May 27-June 2, with bids valid until later on Wednesday.
For Middle Eastern grades, two al-Shaheen crude cargoes on average were sold at around $1.5-$1.6 above Dubai quotes in Qatar Petroleum's (QP) monthly tender, traders said. Mitsui was heard to be one of the buyers.
QP set the term price for May-loading al-Shaheen crude at $1.59 above Dubai quotes, traders said.
Also via the tender, QP sold May-loading Qatar Marine crude at a premium of $1, traders said.
Iraq's SOMO sold 1 million barrels of Basra Medium crude at 50-60 cents above the grade's official selling price (OSP) to PetroChina, traders said.
Via the Rim Trading Board, Idemitsu sold a May-loading cargo of Abu Dhabi's Murban crude to Mitsui at 35 cents above OSP, in line with the trade level seen last Friday.
Taiwanese refiner CPC bought 2 million barrels of U.S. WTI Midland crude at a premium of below $2 to April dated Brent for May arrival, traders said.
ASIA PACIFIC CRUDE
Vietnam's PV Oil closed a tender to sell 300,000 barrels of Su Tu Den, loading May 15-21, with bids valid till March 19.
BP sold one Australian North West Shelf condensate cargo, loading May 5-9, to TPPI, traders said.
More than 3 million barrels of Russian ESPO crude are heading to the United States after a gap of over a year as muted demand from Chinese independent refiners and low freight rates make the trade viable, according to trade sources and Refinitiv data.
Indian state refiners are planning to cut oil imports from Saudi Arabia by about a quarter in May, in an escalating stand-off with Riyadh following OPEC's decision to ignore calls from New Delhi to help the global economy with higher supply.
Oil prices are unlikely to mount a dramatic and sustained surge despite vaccines expected to boost demand later this year, the International Energy Agency said on Wednesday, with the world still awash in oil.
(Reporting By Shu Zhang; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri) ((firstname.lastname@example.org; +65-6870-3549; Reuters Messaging: Twitter @shuzhang4))