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Brent-Dubai Rises to Two-Week High; Shell Buys Oman: Asia Crude

Brent crude’s premium to Middle East benchmark Dubai grade rose to the highest level in more than two weeks. Royal Dutch Shell Plc bought a cargo of Oman crude through the Platts pricing window.

The February Brent-Dubai exchange for swaps, which measures the European oil’s premium to Mideast crude, gained for a fourth day, advancing 4 cents to $5.12 a barrel, the highest since Dec. 14, according to data from PVM Oil Associates Ltd., a London-based broker. The front-month spread has widened $1.47 this year. The March EFS lost 5 cents to $4.37.

Shell bought a 475,000 barrel Oman shipment for February after purchasing at least 19 Dubai partial cargoes in the Platts window in December from Phibro LLC, a unit of Occidental Petroleum Corp., according to a Bloomberg News survey of people who monitor the trades.

Dubai partial deals must be consolidated into one shipment when the same buyer and seller agree to trade 19 or more of the 25,000 barrel lots during a month. The seller can choose to supply Dubai, Upper Zakum or Oman varieties to the buyer.

Shell bought its 19th Dubai partial cargo from Phibro today at $107.45 a barrel, the survey showed. The European oil major also bought three from Mercuria Energy Trading SA at $107.75 a barrel apiece.

OAO Surgutneftegas sold six 100,000 metric-ton cargoes of East Siberia-Pacific Ocean, or ESPO, crude for February loading at premiums of $5.10 to $5.60 a barrel to benchmark Dubai oil, said two people who participate in the market, asking not to be identified because they aren’t authorized to speak to the media.

China SPR

China may start building the third phase of its strategic petroleum reserve next year, which will have a total capacity of 28.2 million cubic meters, China Oil, Gas & Petrochemicals said in an e-mailed report today citing unnamed officials with the National Energy Administration. The three SPR phases may still fail to reach the goal of providing enough oil to cover the country’s demand for 90 days, according to the newsletter, published by the Xinhua News agency.

Benchmark Asia-Pacific refining margins, or the profit from processing Dubai crude into fuels such as diesel and gasoline priced in the regional oil-trading hub of Singapore, averaged $3.55 a barrel during the last five days, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The 30-day average was $2.74.

Mideast Crude

Dubai crude’s backwardation, when near-term shipments cost more than future deliveries, fell 17 cents a barrel. Spot prices were $1.97 higher than cargoes for two months later, according to PVM data.

Abu Dhabi’s Murban and Upper Zakum were unchanged at discounts of 50 cents and 5 cents a barrel, respectively, to their official selling prices, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Qatar Land remained at 60 cents below its OSP while Qatar Marine was at a 13 cent premium.

The official selling price for Oman oil in February will be $106.16 a barrel, based on the average of daily futures settlement prices this month on the Dubai Mercantile Exchange. That sets the medium-sulfur crude at 0.9 percent less than January’s price of $107.14.

Today’s settlement at 12:30 p.m. Dubai time was $106.47 a barrel, the exchange said.

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