China's Unipec is taking two very large crude carriers with around 4 million barrels of Urals crude to Asia in a move to support Russia's main export grade, traders said on Thursday.
Traders said Unipec had booked two VLCCs - Front Tina and British Vintage - and will fill it with the Russian crude after actively buying smaller cargoes in the Platts window in recent days.
On Thursday, Unipec bought a 100,000 Urals tonnes cargo from Eni in the Baltic at dated Brent minus $1.45 a barrel for Sept 25-29 delivery, traders said.
Unipec has become one of the most active players in the Urals market in recent years.
The company used to take most barrels to China but lately has become active in trading and often resells the barrels back to the European market if it decides it is not economical to take barrels home.
Rosneft decided against taking one 100,000-tonne slot of Urals crude scheduled to load from the Baltic Sea port of Primorsk in September in favour of the domestic market, industry sources told Reuters.
For the list of Urals cargoes primary allocations in September see
In other grades, Azeri Light was under pressure from rising Libyan production and some remaining unsold cargoes from the September programme, one major player in Azerbaijan said.
He said there might be major maintenance in October which could reduce supplies of the grade. The Azeri export programme is due to be released next week.
Libya's al-Waha Oil Company feeding the eastern Es Sider export port is producing around 91,000 barrels a day, a company spokesman said on Thursday.
The oil grade will be exported through the Es Sider terminal, the country's largest export terminal, which has reopened after being closed for a year due to protests and maintenance.
Iraq has filed a case against Greek shipping company Marine Management Services (MMS) for its role in the "illegal" export of crude from the autonomous Kurdistan region.
Oil output in Iraq's Kirkuk has slumped to 30,000 barrels a day since June, 90 percent down on earlier this year, and a federal pipeline to the Turkish port of Ceyhan may be out of action for over a year due to sabotage, Kirkuk's governor said.
(Reporting by Dmitry Zhdannikov and Gleb Gorodyankin; editing by Susan Thomas)