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Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi Raise Oil Prices: Persian Gulf Oil

Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil exporter, raised its official selling prices for all crude grades to customers in Asia and Northwest Europe for April shipments and cut prices to buyers in the U.S.

Abu Dhabi National Oil Co., the state-run producer in the capital of the United Arab Emirates, lifted official prices to 30-month highs for crude sold in February and increased the amount of oil it will supply in April.

The following is a weekly summary of Persian Gulf crude and product market news and forthcoming events:

Crude Oil

Saudi Arabia’s government-owned producer increased the formula prices for its Arab Extra Light, Light and Medium crudes to Asia by 65 cents a barrel, the company said March 5. Arab Light to Asia will sell at the highest since July 2008 at $1.95 a barrel above the average of the Oman and Dubai grades, the two Gulf benchmarks used by traders.

Aramco set the price for its Extra Light grade for April loadings for U.S. buyers at a premium of $2.60 a barrel over the Argus Sour Crude Index, 10 cents less than for March cargoes. The price of Arab Light crude to the U.S. will be at parity with the Argus index, 30 cents a barrel lower than for March.

Aramco this week offered two European refiners additional cargoes of Arab Light crude for loading this month, officials involved in the negotiations said. The official prices for light grades to Northwest Europe and the Mediterranean Sea gained as oil rose and lighter crudes from Libya were kept out of the market because of worsening turmoil in the North African country.

Saudi Arabia has said it will supply enough additional crude to make up for shortages caused by the uprisings that have cut exports from Libya.

Adnoc, as the Abu Dhabi government’s oil company is known, raised its retroactive selling prices for cargoes shipped in February to their highest in 30 months. Murban crude, the emirate’s largest export grade, was increased 8.4 percent to $103.60 a barrel, the highest since the August 2008.

Adnoc will boost crude supplies in April on the strength of demand in Asia and as producers seek to replace lost Libyan barrels or allow lighter West African crudes to be diverted to European markets. The company maintained its 10 percent supply cut for Murban crude, the emirate’s main export grade, while eliminating reductions in supply of its other grades.

Qatar too raised official selling prices for February. Qatar International Petroleum Marketing Co., or Tasweeq, is offering to sell four, 500,000-barrel cargoes of deodorized field condensate and low-sulfur condensate for May loading from Ras Laffan. The offer closes March 14.

Iraq’s oil exports rose last month to their highest since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, after shipments resumed from the country’s northern Kurdish region, said Falah al-Amri, the head of Iraq’s State Oil Marketing Organization. Exports in February climbed 2 percent from the previous month to 2.2 million barrels a day, he said.

Light Products

Saudi Basic Industries Corp., the world’s biggest petrochemical maker, is switching to using propane and naphtha as feedstocks to make up for limited supply of natural gas in Saudi Arabia, said Mutlaq Al-Morished, executive vice-president for corporate finance. Sabic and other Saudi petrochemical producers use mostly ethane because the government provides it at subsidized prices. Other feedstocks such as propane and naphtha are more expensive, and companies use fewer of them.


Iraq is set to restart a unit at its Baiji refinery, which was damaged in a terrorist attack Feb. 26. The refinery will resume production at a unit that was under maintenance, to compensate for output lost in the attack that damaged two of the plant’s four crude units.

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