SINGAPORE, Dec 31 (Reuters) - Asian refining margins for 10ppm gasoil dipped on Tuesday, but still lingering close to a multi-week high touched in the previous session, as traders remained optimistic about firmer upcoming demand with new marine fuel rules aimed at cutting pollution from ships kick-starting Wednesday. From January 2020, ships must use fuel with a sulphur content of 0.5%, down from 3.5% through Tuesday, and a section of ship-owners are expected to switch to marine gasoil (MGO) to comply with the new International Maritime Organization (IMO) regulations. Refining profit margins or cracks for gasoil with 10 ppm sulphur content were at $15.99 per barrel over Dubai crude during Asian trade on Tuesday, slightly down from a more than seven-week high of $16.06 per barrel a day earlier. Cracks for the benchmark gasoil grade in Singapore have averaged $15.49 per barrel over Dubai crude in 2019, 0.6% lower than an average of $15.59 in 2018, Refinitiv Eikon data showed. The gasoil cracks, however, are currently at their highest level for this time of the year since 2014, Refinitiv Eikon data showed. Cash premiums for 10 ppm gasoilwere at 77 cents per barrel over Singapore quotes on Tuesday, compared with 85 cents per barrel on Monday. The January/February time spread for 10 ppm gasoil widened its backwardated structure by 2 cents to trade at a premium of 72 cents per barrel on Tuesday. In backwardation, the front-month contract is more expensive than subsequent months and it is usually seen as a sign that prices are likely to head higher in future months. Traders expect the gasoil market to get a boost, especially in the first half of 2020, with more ships switching to MGO next year, while initial stocks for the cheaper alternative very low-sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO) shrink. So far, shippers have appeared to be favouring VLSFO mixes over distillate fuels. Scheduled spring maintenance at some regional refineries would also help tighten supplies to support the gasoil market, trade sources said. Meanwhile, refining margins for jet fuel eased to $14.56 per barrel over Dubai crude on Tuesday, down from $14.61 a barrel on Monday. Cracks for the aviation fuel, which also determines the profitability of closely-related kerosene, have averaged $14.94 in 2019, compared with an average of $15.61 last year. Cash premiums for jet fuel rose to 26 cents per barrel to Singapore quotes on Tuesday, compared with a 20-cent premium on Monday. CHINA 2020 FUEL EXPORT QUOTAS - China has increased the amount of oil products that it will allow oil companies to export in its first batch of quotas for 2020, boosting the level by 53% from a year earlier to about 28 million tonnes, according to a document outlining the quotas. - The new quotas were shared among five state oil companies --PetroChina, Sinopec, China National Offshore Oil Corp, Sinochem Corp and China National Aviation Fuel Corp, according to the document reviewed by Reuters on Tuesday. - In a change to its practice in recent years, the government did not give a breakdown of exports by products - usually of gasoline, diesel and jet kerosene - but left it to the companies to decide what products to export. SINGAPORE CASH DEALS - Three gasoil trades, two jet fuel deals. - Trafigura sold two separate cargoes of 150,000 barrels of 10ppm gasoil each to Winson Oil for Jan. 21-25 loading at a premium of 75 cents per barrel to Singapore quotes. - Trafigura sold another 150,000 barrels of 10ppm gasoil to Winson Oil for Jan. 26-30 loading at a premium of 70 cents a barrel to Singapore quotes. - Unipec sold two separate cargoes of 100,000 barrels of jet fuel each to Singapore trader Hin Leong for Jan. 26-30 loading at a premium of 36 cents a barrel to Singapore quotes. - For more information, please click OTHER NEWS - FACTBOX-Global refiners raise cleaner shipping fuel output ahead of IMO 2020 - Oil prices held steady on the last day of the year, heading for their biggest annual rise since 2016, supported by a thaw in the prolonged U.S.-China trade dispute and supply cuts. - Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's office has proposed waiving a tax on coal to help finance pollution-curbing equipment, according to documents, but the move would also make coal more competitive in price with solar and wind energy. ASSESSMENTS MID-DISTILLATES CASH ($/T) ASIA CLOSE Change % Change Prev Close RIC Spot Gas Oil 0.5% 79.54 -0.50 -0.62 80.04 GO 0.5 Diff -2.05 0.01 -0.49 -2.06 Spot Gas Oil 0.25% 80.17 -0.50 -0.62 80.67 GO 0.25 Diff -1.42 0.01 -0.70 -1.43 Spot Gas Oil 0.05% 81.49 -0.45 -0.55 81.94 GO 0.05 Diff -0.10 0.06 -37.50 -0.16 Spot Gas Oil 0.001% 82.36 -0.60 -0.72 82.96 GO 0.001 Diff 0.77 -0.08 -9.41 0.85 Spot Jet/Kero 80.54 -0.42 -0.52 80.96 Jet/Kero Diff 0.26 0.06 30.00 0.20 For a list of derivatives prices, including margins, please double click the RICs below. Brent M1 Gasoil M1 Gasoil M1/M2 Gasoil M2 Regrade M1 Regrade M2 Jet M1 Jet M1/M2 Jet M2 Gasoil 500ppm-Dubai Cracks M1 Gasoil 500ppm-Dubai Cracks M2 Jet Cracks M1 Jet Cracks M2 East-West M1 East-West M2 LGO M1 LGO M1/M2 LGO M2 Crack LGO-Brent M1 Crack LGO-Brent M2 (Reporting by Koustav Samanta; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)
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