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|18 February, 2019

Middle East Crude Benchmarks fall; little impact from Saudi outage

Middle East crude benchmarks Dubai and Oman eased on Monday

SINGAPORE- Middle East crude benchmarks Dubai and Oman eased on Monday, down from this month's peaks as most refiners have completed their sour crude purchases while an outage at the Safaniyah field in Saudi Arabia appeared to have little impact on heavy oil supplies to Asia, traders said.

Brent's premium to Dubai quotes widened to 73 cents a barrel on Monday after the Middle East oil benchmark softened.

The Safaniyah field suffered a power outage earlier this month but Saudi Aramco has maintained full contractual supplies to several Asian refiners for March, they said, adding that a planned maintenance at the Yanbu refinery in the same month would likely reduce domestic demand.

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MIDEAST CRUDE: Spot premiums for medium sour grades strengthened last week. Fuji Oil bought an April-loading cargo of Banoco Arab Medium crude at a premium of more than 20 cents a barrel to its OSP, up from deals earlier this month at premiums of 5 and 10 cents a barrel. The refiner does not plan to buy any spot light crude cargo this month due to a partial maintenance at its plant in May.

ASIA-PACIFIC CRUDE: Santos will close a tender on Tuesday to sell a Pyrenees cargo loading in April.

A narrow Brent-Dubai spread, limited regional supplies and strong fuel oil margins could support the spot premium for the heavy sweet Australian crude, traders said.

Petronas has set the price factor for Malaysian Crude Oil (MCO) for March at $5.40 per barrel, unchanged from the previous month, the company said on Monday. 

Brunei has set the January OSP for Seria Light crude at $63.56 a barrel, up $2.17 a barrel from the previous month. The January OSP for Champion crude was set at $63.61 a barrel, up $2.22.

RUSSIA: Surgutneftegaz issued a tender to sell two ESPO crude cargoes.

ARBITRAGE: Indian Oil Corp, the country's top refiner, has signed its first annual deal to buy U.S. oil, paying about $1.5 billion for 60,000 barrels a day in the year to March 2020 to diversify its crude sources, its chairman said. 

A trade source, who is not authorised to speak to media, said IOC has signed the deal with Norwegian oil company Equinor.

Vietnam will import its first ever U.S. crude oil cargo in May for trial runs at a domestic refinery as it seeks to widen its purchase options, three trade sources said. 

PV Oil bought the spot cargo of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) Midland crude from a major oil company, they said.

The cargo will be delivered onboard an Aframax tanker that can carry up to 600,000 barrels of oil to the Binh Son refinery, one of the sources said.

WINDOW: Reliance sold two April Dubai partials to Shell at $66.71 a barrel.

MOVES: Swiss-based energy trading company Gunvor said on Monday it has hired crude oil trader Yik Shiong Leow at its Singapore office.

NEWS

India has asked one buyer of Venezuelan oil to consider paying the South American nation's national oil company PDVSA in a way that avoids the U.S. financial system, an Indian government source said, after Washington imposed fresh sanctions on Venezuela last month. 

Russian lender Gazprombank has decided to freeze the accounts of Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA and halted transactions with the firm to reduce the risk of the bank falling under U.S. sanctions, a Gazprombank source told Reuters on Sunday. 

India's oil imports from Iran fell by 45 percent in January to 270,500 barrels per day oil (bpd), ship-tracking data reviewed by Reuters showed, below the estimated 300,000 bpd for the month as some cargoes were delayed. 

A Canadian National Railway Co train derailed early on Saturday in Western Canada, leaking an undetermined volume of crude oil, the company said. 

Trafigura has decided to stop trading oil with Venezuela due to U.S. sanctions on the OPEC nation's energy sector, a source with direct knowledge of the matter said. 

Indonesia's two presidential candidates pledged to achieve energy self-sufficiency by boosting the use of bioenergy, particularly fuelled by palm oil, to cut costly oil imports by Southeast Asia's biggest economy. urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL3N20D1NI

(Reporting by Florence Tan; Editing by Shreejay Sinha) ((Florence.Tan@thomsonreuters.com; +65 6870 3497; Reuters Messaging: florence.tan.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))rices 0#C-A ))

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