Saudi may lower Asia crude prices
Dubai, February 2, 2013
Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia may lower its official selling prices for all crude grades for its Asian buyers in March on expectations of weaker demand due to refinery maintenance and warmer weather, a Reuters survey showed.
Saudi Arabia may lower the OSPs for Arab Light and Arab Medium by a dollar per barrel, while Arab Heavy and Arab Extra Light may be cut by 65 cents and 90 cents each, according to the median of estimates from six traders and refiners.
Saudi crude OSPs are usually released around the fifth of each month, and set the trend for Iranian, Kuwaiti and Iraqi prices, affecting some 7 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude bound for Asia.
Spot differentials for March cargoes, which traded last month, weakened considerably over January as refiners from north Asia cut their purchases. A weak Dubai market added further pressure.
North Asian refiners, who had previously driven prices higher as they stepped up winter buying, slowed their purchases ahead of a heavy refinery maintenance period that kicks off in the second quarter.
"The weak Dubai time-spreads and refinery turnarounds will be the main factors affecting OSPs," said a trader with a western oil major.-Reuters