SINGAPORE- Middle East crude benchmarks rebounded on Thursday as buying interest on Platts window grew after Qatar was set to reduce supplies in September.
Murban's spot discount also narrowed after GS Caltex sold a September-loading cargo at 28 cents a barrel below its OSP to PetroChina, up from an earlier deal this week at a discount of 45 cents.
Qatar Petroleum has cut the number of spot al-Shaheen crude cargoes it offered for September loading by half to two, down from four cargoes in August, trade sources said.
The drop in supply was likely due to scheduled field maintenance at the oilfield, they said.
QP offered two 500,00-barrel cargoes to load on Sept. 21-22 and 28-29 in a tender which will close on July 16, with bids remaining valid for a day.
Traders estimated there would be about 12 cargoes to be exported in September versus 16 in August.
Firefighters have put out a small fire at Shuaiba, one of Iraq's largest oil refineries, within 30 minutes of it starting and operations were not affected, two refinery officials told Reuters.
U.S. oil producers on Wednesday cut nearly a third of Gulf of Mexico crude output as what could be one of the first major storms of the Atlantic hurricane season threatened offshore oil production and began soaking Louisiana with heavy rains.
Three Iranian vessels tried to block the passage of a BP-operated tanker through the Strait of Hormuz but withdrew after warnings from a British warship, the British government said.
Egypt's arrears to foreign oil companies declined to $900 million at the end of June from $1.2 billion a year ago, the petroleum minister said, adding the remaining amount would be paid soon.
(Reporting by Florence Tan; editing by David Evans) ((Florence.Tan@thomsonreuters.com; +65 6870 3497; Reuters Messaging: email@example.com))