Med Crude-Urals stable, Belarus row weighs
LONDON, Sep 5 (Reuters) - Spot differentials on Russian medium sour Urals crude were unchanged on Thursday as the market awaited the results of a big semi-annual tender by top producer Rosneft and sought clarity on whether Russia decides to divert oil away from Belarus. Rosneft is offering more Urals in its semi-annual crude tender and had been due to announce results on Thursday. But the decision was delayed as top managers of the country's largest oil producer travelled to a G20 summit in St Petersburg, traders said. "The market is now hoping to get some results on Friday," one trader said. Rosneft's previous tenders have made Shell, Vitol and Glencore the dominant players in the grade of the world's largest oil producer. Another major factor for the Urals market is a pending decision on how much crude Russia could divert away from Belarus in connection with a trade and diplomatic dispute over potash. On Thursday, Russia piled the pressure on Belarus, saying it would supply the country with 18.5 million tonnes of oil in 2013, which effectively means a steep cut in supplies in the fourth quarter. Russia has supplied its neighbour with around 5.75 million tonnes of oil each quarter so far this year, or more than 17 million tonnes. Belarus has been looking for 23 million tonnes this year. "If the cut is big and all this oil ends up on the export market, Urals will tank," said a trader with a major. Urals differentials have already weakened by almost $2 per barrel in the Baltic over the past weeks from their all-time highs due to expectations of higher supplies due to major maintenance works at Russian refineries. There was no activity in Urals in the Mediterranean, where the grade is priced at around dated Brent flat compared to Urals' discount of around $1 in the Baltic. Some traders still consider bringing Urals from the Baltic to the Mediterranean. "For us the arb definitely remains open," said a trader with a major. PKN awarded its Urals tender for Butinge for Sept 22-26 delivery but the buyer could not be confirmed. In other grades, BP offered an Azeri Light cargo loading Sept 20-24 at Dated Brent plus $5.95, higher than previous price estimates at around dated Brent plus $5.50. Like many other sweet grades, Azeri has been supported by a massive outage in Libyan output due to protests. "I'm expecting to see the premium come off because margins are negative. Even for Azeri," said one buyer. Oil flows through the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline linking Iraq to Turkey resumed on Wednesday night after a bomb attack halted crude flow on Tuesday.