UPDATE 1-Qatar to change crude oil pricing from March-loading cargoes - sources

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SINGAPORE, Dec 19 (Reuters) - Qatar Petroleum (QP) plans to change the pricing of its crude for cargoes loading from March to allow buyers to better compare the value of its oil with that of other Middle East producers, two sources with knowledge of the matter said on Thursday.

The producer will announce in February the official selling prices (OSPs) for Qatar Land and Qatar Marine crude on a forward pricing basis, the sources said.

At the same time, QP will also release the OSPs for cargoes loading in January and February, they said.

The company could not be immediately reached for comment.

QP currently prices the two grades on a retroactive basis but will move this to forward pricing, a more popular approach used by other Middle East crude exporters such as Saudi Arabia that better matches the trading cycle of crude.

Middle East sour crude grades are typically traded two months forward in the Asia market, meaning that next year’s March-loading crude cargoes will be traded in January.

QP has been releasing “dummy prices” in the interim to test the price formula change, the sources said.

Reporting by Shu Zhang and Florence Tan; Editing by Edmund Blair and Mark Potter