Middle East Crude-Benchmarks hit 2-month high as trading picks up

Middle East crude benchmarks Oman and Dubai strengthened on Friday

  

SINGAPORE- Middle East crude benchmarks Oman and Dubai strengthened on Friday, reaching their highest in two months, after trading for March-loading cargoes picked up speed across Asia.

IFAD Murban's premium to Dubai swaps also rose to a two-month high of $3.90 a barrel.

A widening of Brent crude's premium to Dubai quotes has boosted Asia's demand for Middle East and Russian grades.

India's IOC has bought 2 million barrels of Murban crude from BP for April loading via a tender this week, traders said, adding to a million barrels of the same grade it purchased from Totsa last week.

Thailand's IRPC will close on Monday its monthly sour crude purchase tender.

Unipec has bought at least two Upper Zakum crude cargoes for March loading likely from Aramco Trading and Repsol, traders said, adding that the refiner-cum-trader has the flexibility of reselling the oil or supply them to its refineries.

CHINA SPR

China will release crude oil from its national strategic stockpiles around the Lunar New Year holidays as part of a plan coordinated by the United States with other major consumers to reduce global prices, sources told Reuters. 

The sources, who have knowledge of talks between the world's top two crude consumers, said China agreed in late 2021 to release an unspecified amount of oil depending on price levels.

"China agreed to release a relatively bigger amount if oil is above $85 a barrel, and a smaller volume if oil stays near $75 level," said one source, without elaborating.

The release of crude stocks by China will occur around Lunar New Year, which falls on Feb. 1, the sources said. China will be closed for the biggest annual holiday from Jan. 31 to Feb. 6.

REFINERY

Mexican state oil company Petroleos Mexicanos will take control of the Deer Park refinery in Houston, Texas on Jan. 20, three sources with knowledge of the matter said on Thursday. 

Microsoft is investing $50 million in a LanzaJet facility in Georgia that will produce jet fuel from ethanol next year, LanzaJet said. 

NEWS

China's annual crude oil imports slid 5.4% in 2021, dropping for the first time since 2001, as Beijing clamped down on the refining sector to curb excess domestic fuel production while refiners drew down massive inventories. 

Additional global electricity demand over the next three years could result in market volatility and high emissions unless there are faster structural changes, the International Energy Agency said in a report on Friday. 

The U.S. Energy Department said on Thursday it had sold 18 million barrels of strategic crude oil reserves to six companies, including Exxon Mobil and a unit of refiner Valero Energy Corp, after saying last year it would sell reserves to try to tamp down rising oil prices. 

(Reporting by Florence Tan; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel) ((Florence.Tan@thomsonreuters.com; Reuters Messaging: florence.tan.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))


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