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Saudi Aramco sells rare straight-run fuel oil on hydrocracker maintenance: traders

Saudi Aramco, in a rare move, has so far sold at least two straight run fuel oil cargoes for December loading from Ras Tanura due to an unplanned turnaround of its hydrocracker unit, traders said this week.

However, Saudi Aramco has yet to reply to S&P Global Platts’ emails for confirmation of the matter.

Saudi Aramco seldom sells straight-run fuel oil, but its 50,000 b/d hydrocracker at its 550,000 b/d Ras Tanura refinery was shut around mid-November for maintenance, which led to exports of straight-run fuel oil, traders said.

“Yes, it’s rare, we are also trying to find out the reason, as we haven’t seen any [Ras Tanura] straight run fuel oil in years,” a Singapore-based trader said.

The reason for the shutdown is not immediately known.

“It’s some internal issue, is what I have heard, that has led to the unplanned turnaround,” a UAE-based fuel oil trader said.
“I think they were supposed to have the scheduled turnaround next year,” he added.

The oil behemoth first sold via tender in end-November 100,000 mt of 180 CST straight run high sulfur fuel oil for December 7 loading, while a second similar cargo was sold, also via tender, for December 17 loading, early this week, traders said.

The first cargo was bought by China’s Rongsheng Petrochemical, while award details of the second cargo is not known, market sources said.

Straight-fun fuel oil is typically used as a refinery feedstock to produce cleaner fuels, so it usually finds favor with refiners.
In the Middle East, UAE’s ADNOC has been a dominant exporter of straight run fuel oil since its 127,000 b/d residue fluid catalytic cracker was shut following a fire in January 2017.

ADNOC will discontinue term contracts to sell straight run fuel oil loading from Ruwais from 2019 as it plans to restart its RFCC by early next year, Platts reported in early November quoting traders.
Source: Platts

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