|23 March, 2020

Middle East Crude-Benchmarks, EFS plunge; Asia's spot premiums for Russian ESPO down

Middle East crude benchmarks Oman and Dubai slumped further on Monday

SINGAPORE- Middle East crude benchmarks Oman and Dubai slumped further on Monday, tracking losses in global oil futures, as the coronavirus pandemic hit global fuel demand.

Oman differential dropped 76 cents to negative $3.66, while Dubai differential fell 23 cents to negative $5.27.

Brent's discount to Dubai swaps widened by 85 cents to $4.23 a barrel, setting a new record since at least 2004 when the data became available, Refinitiv Eikon data showed. 

ASIA-PACIFIC CRUDE:

Russia's Gazprom Neft sold a cargo of ESPO crude, loading in early May, at a spot premium of around $1.10 a barrel to Dubai quotes, traders said.

Trafigura sold a cargo of ESPO crude, loading in mid May, at a spot premium of around $1.50 a barrel to Dubai quotes, traders said. 

REFINERY

Taiwan's state-owned oil refiner CPC Corp will cut crude throughput rates in April by less than 10%, from around 70%-80% currently, as the coronavirus pandemic has lowered fuel demand, two sources familiar with the matter said on Monday. 

Sinopec Corp's Tahe refinery shut down a 30,000 barrels per day (bpd) crude distillation unit from March 10 for regular maintenance lasting about 40 days, a refinery official said on Monday.

NEWS

Royal Dutch Shell will lower spending by $5 billion and suspended its vast $25 billion share buyback plan in an effort to weather the recent collapse in oil prices, the company said on Monday. 

Russia did not seek an end to cooperation with OPEC or a sharp drop in oil prices, a senior Russian official told the TASS news agency, saying the Gulf nations are to blame for the crisis on global oil markets.

Traders and analysts are struggling to revise down their forecasts for oil demand fast enough, as government lockdowns to contain the coronavirus outbreak have rapidly cut fuel consumption. 

Oil and gas producer Santos Ltd said on Monday it will slash capital spending in 2020 and defer an investment decision on Barossa as oil prices plunge and the coronavirus outbreak dents business sentiment. 

(Reporting By Shu Zhang; Editing by Shailesh Kuber) ((shu.zhang@thomsonreuters.com; +65-6870-3549; Reuters Messaging: Twitter @shuzhang4))

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