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Middle East Crude Watch-Brent/Dubai EFS soars

Traders attributed the surge to robust Brent prices.

October 5, 2010 1:07 by

Front-month Brent/Dubai Exchange of Futures for Swaps (EFS) for November jumped back on Tuesday to the highest since August, largely driven by a stronger Brent although Middle East crudes have also recovered in recent weeks.

The spread between the price markers for Atlantic Basin and Middle Eastern crudes surged by around $1.00 over the past two weeks to reach $2.75 a barrel on Tuesday, Reuters data showed, the same level hit on Aug. 4. The EFS had soared to as high as above $3.00 a barrel in late 2008 just before OPEC producers began record supply curbs.

Traders attributed the surge to robust Brent prices, which have been supported by restrained supplies due to higher-than normal levels of summer maintenance at North Sea fields and a firm market for Russian Urals crude.

Reflecting the sentiment in the two markets, the November/December Brent intermonth spread was around 20 cents, while the Dubai November/December intermonth spread was around 50 cents on Tuesday.

Wider Brent/Dubai EFS will also curb Atlantic Basin crudes from entering Asia and continue to make Middle East grades attractive, even as Gulf producers raise the prices of their crudes after the market rebounded in the past month.

On Tuesday, Abu Dhabi raised the spread between September Murban price and September average for Dubai to 78 cents, up from a multi-year low of 51 cents for August and July, signalling continuous recovery of the Middle East market.

Saudi Arabia could release its November OSPs soon. Traders expect the top oil exporter to raise the price of Arab Light crude heading to Asia for November on firm gas oil cracks and improved refining margins, while likely to maintain or raise slightly the differentials of Arab Medium and Arab Heavy grades on softening fuel oil cracks.

(Reporting by Judy Hua, Alejandro Barbajosa and Jasmin Choo; Editing by Ramthan Hussain)

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