May 2, 2019 / 7:43 AM / 19 days ago

Saudi Arabia may raise June crude prices to Asia

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia is expected to raise June prices for all crude grades it sells to Asia to track stronger Middle East benchmarks, trade sources said on Thursday.

FILE PHOTO: An oil tanker is being loaded at Saudi Aramco's Ras Tanura oil refinery and oil terminal in Saudi Arabia May 21, 2018. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah/File Photo

Saudi Arabia, the largest producer of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), could raise the official selling price (OSP) for flagship Arab Light crude by 40 cents to $1 a barrel, a Reuters survey of five refiners showed.

This would make Arab Light crude’s OSP the highest since at least August 2018, Reuters data showed.

Crude oil supplies have tightened after U.S. sanctions on Iran and Venezuela slashed their exports. Outages in Nigeria, conflict in Libya and oil contamination issues in Russia have also added to supply concerns.

Demand in Asia, on the other hand, will rebound in the third quarter as several refineries return from maintenance to ramp up output for peak summer season.

The price spread between first and third-month cash Dubai last month widened 75 cents a barrel in backwardation last month, an indication of strong demand for prompt cargoes, the sources said.

For other Saudi grades, the June Arab Extra Light OSP may rise by 80 cents to $1, while Arab Medium’s OSP may increase by 25 cents to 60 cents a barrel.

The range of price hikes expected for Arab Heavy was wide at 10 cents to 60 cents a barrel. While fuel oil margins were much weaker last month, heavy crude demand has become stronger in the absence of supplies from Iran and Venezuela, the respondents said.Saudi crude OSPs are usually released around the fifth of each month, and set the trend for Iranian, Kuwaiti and Iraqi prices, affecting more than 12 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude bound for Asia.

State oil giant Saudi Aramco sets its crude prices based on recommendations from customers and after calculating the change in the value of its oil over the past month, based on yields and product prices.

Saudi Aramco officials as a matter of policy do not comment on the kingdom’s monthly OSPs.

Reporting by Florence Tan, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips

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