SINGAPORE- Middle East crude benchmarks Dubai and Oman were largely steady on Thursday, while spot differentials for Iraqi Basra crude flipped to premiums for the first time in months.
Basra crude's official selling prices (OSP) have become more competitive after SOMO lowered prices for two straight months. Lukoil sold 1 million barrels of Basra Light for November loading to Japan's ENEOS at 70 cents a barrel to its OSP, traders said.
There was also talk about November-loading Basra Medium crude being sold into China at 50 cents a barrel above its OSP, traders said, although the counterparties were not identified.
Details of SOMO's tender to sell 2 million barrels of Basra Light crude for December loading remained unclear, although some market participants said Petraco might have been awarded the cargo at a premium between 10 and 20 cents.
Separately, Thailand's PTT has awarded a sweet crude tender on behalf of IRPC, although details were not immediately available.
Indian Oil Corp, India's top refiner, is operating its plants at an average 90% of total capacity and hopes to achieve the full operating rate soon, chairman S M Vaidya said on Thursday.
Asia's naphtha prices and refining margins jumped to their highest since 2014, propelled by strong demand growth for the petrochemical feedstock and as alternative liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) becomes expensive amid a global power crunch.
U.S. crude and fuel inventories tightened further last week, as supplies of gasoline hit a two-year low and inventories at the largest U.S. commercial storage hub dropped to a three-year low, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Wednesday.
China's thermal coal futures fell the maximum permitted 11% on Thursday, extending losses run up since Tuesday when Beijing signalled it might intervene to cool surging prices that have led to power shortages across much of the country.
(Reporting by Florence Tan Editing by Mark Potter) ((Florence.Tan@thomsonreuters.com; Reuters Messaging: email@example.com))