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Mercuria Buys North Sea Forties; Urals Crude at 22-Month Low

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Feb. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Mercuria Energy Trading SA bought North Sea Forties crude at the highest level in three weeks. Russian Urals differentials dropped to the lowest in more than 22 months as Vitol Group sold amid rising supplies.

Refiners in Asia will trim imports of West African crude for loading in March to the lowest level in five months after Indonesia and Japan failed to buy any cargoes even as Chinese buying rebounded.

North Sea

Mercuria bought Forties lot F0310 from Trafigura Beheer BV for loading March 19 to March 21 at 25 cents a barrel more than Dated Brent, a Bloomberg survey of traders and brokers monitoring the Platts pricing window showed. That equals a trade on Feb. 8.

Trafigura offered Forties lot F0304 for March 9 to March 11 at a discount of 15 cents to Dated Brent and F0316 for March 22 to March 24 at plus 40 cents to the benchmark without finding a buyer, the survey showed.

Royal Dutch Shell Plc failed to find a buyer for Forties consignment F0313 at 28 cents more than Dated Brent.

Seven cargoes of the grade for loading in March have now been deferred, according to four traders with knowledge of the matter. Lots F0309 and F0310 will both be shipped four days later than planned, from March 18 to March 20 and March 19 to March 21 respectively, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is confidential.

Reported crude trading typically occurs during the Platts window, which ends at 4:30 p.m. London time. Forties loading in 10 to 25 days was 9 cents a barrel more than Dated Brent, a decrease of 8 cents from yesterday, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That’s the lowest since Dec. 31.

Brent for April settlement traded at $112.37 a barrel on the ICE Futures Europe exchange in London at the close of the window, compared with $113.08 in the previous session. The May contract was at $111.47, a discount of 90 cents to April.

Mediterranean/Urals

Vitol Group sold 140,000 metric tons of Urals to Glencore International Plc at a discount of $3.40 a barrel to Dated Brent on a delivered basis to Augusta, Italy, the Platts survey showed. That’s 70 cents less than the cargo the company sold yesterday and the lowest since April 28 2011, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

OAO Lukoil’s Litasco failed to find a buyer for the grade at $2.90 less than the benchmark, according to the survey.

Russia plans to ship 1.6 million barrels a day of Urals from Primorsk and Ust-Luga in March, up 7.5 percent from February, according to a final loading program.

The Urals discount to Dated Brent in the Mediterranean widened 28 cents a barrel to $2.54, data compiled by Bloomberg show. That’s the least since April 17. In northwest Europe, the discount was at $2.79 a barrel, compared with $2.56 in the previous session. That’s the lowest since April 19.

West Africa

Benchmark Nigerian Qua Iboe blend rose 3 cents to $2.30 a barrel more than Dated Brent, Bloomberg data show. That’s the most since Feb. 4.

Asia bought 52 cargoes totaling 1.6 million barrels a day from Angola, Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, Republic of Congo, Gabon, Ghana and Democratic Republic of Congo, according to a survey of six traders and an analysis of loading plans obtained by Bloomberg News. That compares with 1.68 million in February and 1.59 million in October.

Bharat Petroleum Corp. bought 3 million barrels of crude for loading in April, said two traders who asked not to be identified because the information is confidential.

The Indian refiner purchased about 1 million barrels each of the Nigerian Akpo, Angolan Nemba and Algerian Saharan Blend grades, they said.

Indian Oil Corp. issued a tender to buy crude for loading in May, according to a document obtained by Bloomberg News. The tender closes at 3 p.m. local time on March 5 and offers will be valid until 5 p.m. the next day, the document showed.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rupert Rowling in London at rrowling@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Voss at sev@bloomberg.net

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