|27 February, 2019

Middle East Crude-Dubai, Oman prices fall below Brent for 2nd day

Outright prices for Dubai and Oman dropped below Brent for a second straight session on Wednesday

SINGAPORE- Outright prices for Dubai and Oman dropped below Brent for a second straight session on Wednesday as the Middle East crude market returned to normalcy just before the month ends.

Several factors drove Middle East benchmarks above Brent from the start of trading this month. Production cuts by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries took effect while U.S. sanctions on Iran and Venezuela reduced heavy oil supplies in the market.

An outage at Saudi's largest oilfield Safaniya added to concerns about heavy oil supplies from the world's largest exporter. Saudi Aramco's chief executive said on Tuesday the oilfield was back online. 

ASIA-PACIFIC CRUDE: Petronas has sold 200,000 barrels of Bertam crude to BB Energy for loading on April 18-22 at a premium of about $4 a barrel to dated Brent, traders said, slightly down from a premium of more than $4 a barrel in the previous month.

PV Oil may have sold the April-loading Ruby crude cargo to Binh Son refinery.

RUSSIA: Surgutneftegaz offered six ESPO crude cargoes for loading on April 6-10, 9-13, 13-17, 16-20, 21-25 and 25-29 in a tender that will close on Wednesday. 

REFINERY

U.S. refiner Citgo Petroleum Corp is formally cutting ties with its parent, state-run oil firm Petroleos de Venezuela SA, to meet U.S. sanctions imposed on the OPEC country, two people close to the decision told Reuters on Tuesday. 

NEWS

Asia's gasoline margins have recently swung back to a premium after mainly being at discounts since the start of 2019 as rising demand from Indonesia and upcoming refinery maintenance raised supply concerns. 

OPEC and its allies will stick with their agreement to cut oil supply, pushing for more adherence despite a demand by U.S. President Donald Trump that the producer group ease its efforts to boost crude prices, a Gulf OPEC source said on Tuesday. 

Energy trader Gunvor Group is considering selling non-core assets in Russia and finding a strategic partner for its German refinery as it tries to recover from the first-ever annual loss it suffered in 2018, trading and banking sources said. 

Saudi Arabia is set to boost crude exports to China in 2019 as demand there grows and after Saudi Aramco shifted strategy to boost its market share in the world's second biggest oil consumer. 

Libya's internationally recognised government has agreed with state oil firm NOC on steps to reopen the El Sharara oilfield and lift force majeure, a contractual waiver, a government statement said. 

Bahrain is talking to U.S. oil companies with shale oil expertise about developing a huge oil and gas field discovered last year, and hopes to have an interested company by the end of the year, the oil minister said.

BP Chief Executive Bob Dudley described the United States' high-pace shale oil sector as a "market without a brain" that, unlike Saudi Arabia and Russia, only responds to market signals.

Workers at three of Total's North Sea oil and gas platforms will hold a series of strikes between March 11 and May 8, Britain's Unite union said. 

(Reporting by Florence Tan; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier) ((Florence.Tan@thomsonreuters.com; +65 6870 3497; Reuters Messaging: florence.tan.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

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