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Total Buys North Sea Forties; Statoil to Start Gullfaks Drilling

Total SA bought a cargo of North Sea Forties crude from Statoil ASA while Trafigura Beheer BV offered a consignment without completing any deals.

Total said it purchased the Dec. 21 to Dec. 23 shipment at a 15-cent discount to Dated Brent benchmark. Trafigura offered a cargo loading on Dec. 24 to Dec. 26 at a premium of 15 cents over Dated, according to traders involved in North Sea transactions.

Reported North Sea market activity typically occurs during a trading window that ends daily at 4:30 p.m. in London. Prior to the window, Forties crude loading from 10 to 21 days in the future cost 20 cents more than Dated Brent, from 7 cents the previous day. Yesterday was the first time Forties has been at a premium to Dated since Oct. 6.

Brent crude for January settlement traded at $90.80 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange at the close of the window, up from $89.55 a barrel at the same time yesterday. The February contract traded at $90.83 a barrel. The price spread between the two nearest-term contracts reversed to 3 cents from minus 4 cents yesterday. The front-months were backwardated yesterday, the first time the contract closest to expiry was more expensive than the following month since October.

Statoil, Norway’s biggest oil and gas producer, has decided to resume drilling and well operations at the Gullfaks field in the North Sea after halting activity on Nov. 10 to conduct a safety review.

Statoil carried out a “detailed review” of its planned drilling and well operations on the field after pressure in a well on its Gullfaks C platform destabilized on May 19, causing an evacuation and a two-month production halt, it said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. Findings made and measures adopted after drilling stopped on Nov. 10 have been presented to the Norwegian Petroleum Safety Authority, the company said.

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