MidEast Crude Rises

Friday, August 11, 2006
Oil traders and refiners yesterday were scrambling to move prompt crude oil and product supplies from Asia to the US West Coast, anticipating tighter markets with the closure of BP's Prudhoe Bay oilfield, according to a report on www.gulfnews.com. The shipments gave more lift to Middle East sour crude prices and regional jet fuel differentials, traders said. US refiner Tesoro Corp booked the 80,000-tonne crude oil tanker Cape Avila from Oman to the West Coast in early September, shipbrokers said. About one cargo a month of medium-sour Oman is normally shipped to the West Coast and traders had expected the loss of up to 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) of similar-quality Alaska North Slope would drive up US demand for the benchmark grade. However, traders were caught off guard by the flurry of demand for crude oil tankers from South Korea to the US, as oil majors and trading companies appeared to be tapping quickly into Seoul's joint-venture storage tanks. Supplies from North Asia could be loaded promptly and reach the US West Coast in about two weeks, while most Asian and Latin America cargoes are sold out through September. Tesoro, which relies on ANS crude for only 10 percent of its West Coast refining, also booked an Aframax tanker of between 80,000 and 125,000 deadweight tonnes from Indonesia to northwest Australia, with options marked for an ongoing voyage to either Hawaii, Los Angeles or Anacortes, Washington. BP began shutting down Prudhoe Bay on Sunday after discovering corroded pipelines. It will decide today whether or not to continue pumping from the western half of the field, maintaining supplies of about 185,000 bpd. (Source: www.gulfnews.com)

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