Middle East Crude-Benchmarks edge higher to new peaks this month

Middle East crude benchmarks edged up on Monday to new highs this month

  

SINGAPORE - Middle East crude benchmarks edged up on Monday to new highs this month, supported by firm demand in Asia.

Most of the March-loading Middle East crude spot cargoes have traded at discounts to their respective official selling prices (OSPs), while more Russian and Asian grades could be sold this week, traders said.

IRAN: Japanese refiners have loaded Iranian oil onto a tanker, resuming imports after halting purchases because of sanctions by the United States, a spokesman for a Japanese refinery and an Iranian official said. 

Japanese refiner Fuji Oil Co lifted a cargo of Iranian crude oil over the weekend, a company spokesman said.

The very large crude carrier (VLCC) Kisogawa loaded about 2 million barrels of Iranian oil on Sunday and is expected to reach Japan on Feb. 9, according to the Fuji spokesman and Refinitiv Eikon data.

Fuji Oil owns about half of the oil onboard, while Showa Shell Sekiyu KK owns the remainder, the Fuji spokesman said.

South Korea received on Saturday its first Iranian oil cargo in four months, data on Refinitiv Eikon showed. 

NITC tanker Silvia 1 discharged close to 1 million barrels of condensate, a light oil typically produced in association with natural gas, on Jan. 19 at Incheon port, it showed.

Another NITC tanker Sana carrying the same volume of condensate is expected to arrive in South Korea on Jan. 31, according to Refinitiv data.

WINDOW: Cash Dubai's premium to swaps edged up 2 cents to 59 cents a barrel. Seller-Buyer Price Unipec-Shell 61.80 Unipec-BP (Oman) 62.20 Unipec-Shell 61.85

REFINERY

Saudi Arabia plans to build an oil refinery and petrochemicals plant in South Africa as part of $10 billion of investments in the country, Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said on Friday after talks with his South African counterpart. 

Chinese oil refiners raised their output to a record in 2018, led by state-run oil majors which maximised operations on firm profit-margins and private refiners which increased processing after being granted higher crude import quotas. 

NEWS

A blast at a gasoline pipeline in Mexico that killed at least 79 people has directed renewed scrutiny toward the new president's ambitious strategy to stop fuel theft, his first major offensive to stamp out corruption and organized crime. 

OPEC on Friday published a list of oil production cuts by its members and other major producers for the six months to June, an effort to boost confidence in the move designed to avoid a supply glut in 2019. 

The trading arm of Australian bank Macquarie Group has filed a lawsuit against Jupiter Marketing & Trading, alleging the U.S. firm breached contracts for oil purchase and storage.

U.S. oil production growth combined with a slowing global economy will put oil prices under downward pressure in 2019, challenging OPEC's resolve to support the market with output cuts, the International Energy Agency said on Friday. 

South Sudan has begun to repair and pump oil from wells damaged in the civil war and will ramp up production by the end of the year, the oil minister told Reuters ahead of a Monday trip to the oil fields.

(Reporting by Florence Tan; Editing by Rashmi Aich) ((Florence.Tan@thomsonreuters.com; +65 6870 3497; Reuters Messaging: florence.tan.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))C-A ))

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