|25 March, 2020

Middle East Crude-Benchmarks rise; UAE grades traded at deep discounts

Middle East crude benchmarks Oman and Dubai rose on Wednesday

SINGAPORE- Middle East crude benchmarks Oman and Dubai rose on Wednesday as buyers snapped up UAE crude cargoes at deep spot discounts.

Oman differential jumped $1.23 a barrel to negative $2.68, while Dubai differential edged up 7 cents a barrel to negative $5.11.

Brent's discount to Dubai swaps widened by 55 cents to $4.55 a barrel, setting a new record since at least 2004 when the data became available, Refinitiv Eikon data showed. 

In the spot market, Gunvor bought two cargoes of Upper Zakum crude, loading May 1-25, from Exxon Mobil at a discount of $4.60 to Dubai quotes and a discount of $1.60 to its OSP, respectively.

Mitsui bought a cargo of Murban crude, loading May 1-25, at a discount of $2.10 to its official selling price (OSP) from Total.

Shell bought a cargo of Das Blend crude, loading May 1-25, at a discount of $3.30 to its OSP from Total.

ASIA-PACIFIC CRUDE:

Russia's Gazprom Neft sold a cargo of ESPO Blend crude, loading May 13-16, at a lower spot premium of 65 cents to Dubai quotes, likely to China's Unipec, traders said.

ESPO Blend crude oil loading plan from Russia's Pacific port of Kozmino has been set at a record monthly high of 3.2 million tonnes for May versus 3.1 million tonnes in April, a loading schedule seen by Reuters showed. 

REFINERY

Oil refineries in Thailand are reducing their run rates by 10% to 20% after measures taken by the government to curb the spread of the coronavirus caused domestic fuel demand to fall sharply, two sources familiar with the matter said on Tuesday. 

South Korea's S-Oil plans to shut its 76,200 barrels-per-day (bpd) No.2 residue fluid catalytic cracker (RFCC) and 90,000-bpd No.1 crude distillation unit (CDU) for maintenance in June and in August, respectively, two sources familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.

India's state oil refiners are reducing crude processing as local fuel demand has tumbled due to lockdowns in much of the country that are aimed at halting the spread of coronavirus, industry and company officials said.

NEWS

China's crude oil imports in the first two months of 2020 from top supplier Saudi Arabia rose 26% from a year earlier, while purchases from No. 2 supplier Russia gained 11%, Reuters' calculations based on customs data showed on Wednesday. 

Some ports in India, including those owned by Adani Ports & SEZ Ltd, have declared force majeure after Asia's third-biggest economy announced a 21-day lockdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, documents seen by Reuters showed. 

The world's biggest oil and gas firms should break an industry taboo and consider cutting dividends, rather than taking on any more debt to maintain payouts as they weather the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, investors say. 

Norwegian oil firm Equinor will cut investments, exploration drilling and operating costs as part of a $3 billion plan to help the company weather the coronavirus crisis and low oil prices, it said on Wednesday. 

Japanese trading company Marubeni Corp said it now expects a net loss of 190 billion yen ($1.7 billion) for the year ending this month after the coronavirus epidemic hammered the global business environment.

For crude prices, oil product cracks and refining margins, please click on the RICs below.

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

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