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Middle East crude-benchmarks steady, medium grades trade at discounts

The Middle East crude market held steady on Monday with medium grades traded at discounts to their respective official selling prices (OSPs), while spot premiums for Russian grades were little changed from last week’s deals.

BAHRAIN: Bahrain’s BAPCO has sold January-loading Banoco Arab Medium crude at a discount wider than 30 cents a barrel to its OSP, traders said. Details on the number of cargoes and buyers were not immediately known.

UAE: January-loading Upper Zakum cargoes have been sold at discounts of about 30 cents a barrel to its OSP.

IRAN: Refiners in Japan and South Korea are looking to resume Iranian oil imports from January after receiving waivers from U.S. sanctions on Tehran, sources familiar with the matter said.

South Korean refiners are set to hold their Iranian oil imports at zero until the end of the year, and they may resume shipments in late January or early February as buyers are in talks with Iran to sign new contracts, industry sources said.

Fuji Oil Co, one of Japan’s top Iranian oil buyers, plans to resume Iran crude liftings from January as well, and is also looking to buy condensate.

RUSSIA: ONGC and Exxon Mobil have each sold one January-loading Russian Sokol crude cargo at premiums of $4.80-$4.90 a barrel to Dubai quotes, traders said. Shell bought ONGC’s cargo which will load on Jan. 25-31.

REFINERY

Three major centres for oil demand in the Mediterranean are expanding refinery capacity, squeezing traders and exporters including India and the Middle East out of traditionally busy markets for petroleum products such as diesel and gasoline.

A new refinery in Turkey, plant upgrades in Algeria and Egypt and the Algerian purchase of an Italian refinery stand to dislocate petroleum product trading in the Mediterranean next year and beyond.

NEWS

Iraq on Friday restarted exports of Kirkuk oil, halted a year ago due to a standoff between the central government and Kurdistan’s semi-autonomous region, after a new government in Baghdad agreed a tentative deal with Erbil.

Shares in Noble Group Ltd, once Asia’s top commodity trader, were suspended from trading from Monday, as the company seeks to transform into an Asia-focused coal-trading business following a $3.5 billion debt restructuring deal.

Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh on Sunday named Masoud Karbasian, a former economy and finance minister, as chief executive of state-run National Iranian Oil Co (NIOC), the ministry’s news website Shana reported.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Florence Tan; Editing by Rashmi Aich)

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