Saudis Raise Light Oil Asian Pricing to 10-Month High on Demand

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Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest crude exporter, raised July pricing for most crude grades sold to Asia amid signs that demand is growing.

Arab Light for buyers in Asia will sell at parity to the regional benchmark, state-owned Saudi Arabian Oil Co. said Thursday in an e-mailed statement. Saudi Aramco raised the official selling prices for that grade and Arab Medium crude to 10-month highs, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Saudi Arabia is producing crude at the highest level in more than three decades. Its strategy to defend its market share is working as “demand is picking up, supply is slowing,” Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said in Vienna on Monday. While there’s a surplus in the global market, things are moving “in the right direction,” he said.

Brent, a global oil benchmark, slumped 48 percent last year as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries maintained its production target, leaving the job of tackling a global surplus to producers outside the 12-member group. OPEC is expected to keep its output target unchanged at a meeting in Vienna on Friday, according to a Bloomberg survey of analysts and traders last month.

Saudi Aramco cut the premium on its Super Light crude to Asia to $1.40 a barrel, the only grade to the region not to be increased. For sales to the U.S., Aramco raised pricing for one grade, Extra Light, to a premium of $3.55 a barrel.

The 60 cents-a-barrel increase in Arab Light pricing to Asia exceeded the gain foreseen by buyers. Saudi Aramco was expected to raise it by 50 cents a barrel, according to a Bloomberg survey of eight refiners and traders.

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