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Gasoline premiums slightly up on Oman

Maintenance and outage provides support.

November 5, 2010 10:03 by

Gasoline premiums in the Middle East market inched higher this week, drawing support from imports by Oman following an unplanned refinery shutdown.

Oman Refineries and Petrochemical Co (ORPC) shut its 116,000 barrel per day (bpd) oil refinery in Sohar on Oct. 30.

Oman, not a regular gasoline buyer, bought one extra cargo this week, traders said and one dealer said the shutdown could continue for at least 10 days.

“The ORPC shutdown may help the market a little bit but Omanis don’t buy that much,” another trader said.

Already last week, tender-buying from Oman and also Kuwait had provided some support when Kuwait bought around 25,000-35,000 tonnes in a tender and Oman bought 1-2 cargoes, trade sources said.

One added the two countries had bought “on the high side”.

“Demand in the region is catching up, supply from the Med. (Mediterranean) is too tight, the East is available but too expensive. All of these factors are pushing premiums slightly higher,” the trader said.

He pegged gasoline at around Middle East benchmark naphtha quotes plus high 30s for 95 RON.

Since international sanctions took hold earlier this year, Iran, once a big gasoline importer, has been largely absent from the Middle Eastern market, helping to depress premiums.

It has said it has achieved gasoline self-sufficiency, but imported at least two cargoes of gasoline in October, trade sources said.


Naphtha drew some support from ongoing refinery maintenance.

ADNOC quoted offers for its 2011 naphtha supplies at premiums of $17.00-$19.00 a tonne to its own price formula on a free-on-board (FOB) basis, traders said.

They said the offers were above their expectations as they considered the market had softened compared with a week ago and some petrochemical-makers had concluded purchasing for December-arrival cargoes.

Cracks — the premiums/losses obtained from refining Brent crude into naphtha — were at their lowest in a week on Wednesday, at a $143.05 a tonne premium.


State oil giant Aramco cancelled a tender to sell about 40,000 tonnes of 800 ppm gas oil for November-loading because bids were too low and did not plan to re-tender soon, traders said.

“The market for 0.2 percent, 0.5 percent sulphur gas oil is still oversupplied due to decreased demand,” said one trader.

“East Africa is now completely 500 ppm and Aramco is not buying spot gas oil 0.5 percent cargoes,” he added.

Aramco will start negotiations soon for term contracts for next year for only 500 ppm, he said.

Following a fall in buying because of flooding, demand is gradually returning from Pakistan.

Its Pakistan State Oil (PSO) was set to resume spot gas oil imports this month as it sought up to 150,000 tonnes of supplies via tender. [ID:nSGE6A1043]

The spot tender amounted to about 45-50 percent of what they used to buy before the flood, one trader added.

He pegged regional premiums for 0.5 percent gas oil at $0.30 a barrel, 0.2 percent gas oil for $0.40 a barrel, 500 ppm for $1.75 a barrel.

He quoted jet at $0.50 a barrel for cargo sizes of 65,000 tonnes to 85,000 tonnes Large Range 1-2 (LR1-LR2) and $0.20 a barrel on 40,000 tonnes cargo or Medium-Range, MR-size, he said.


Bunker prices in Fujairah are weaker, said a trader: “mainly because supply is good for bunker grades in the Middle East”.

A second trader pegged wholesale premiums at $3-$5 a tonne.

“No change unless someone moves big parcels to Singapore which does not seem to happen due to large inventories already hanging in Singapore,” he said.

(Editing by Barbara Lewis)

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