Med Crude Urals Weaken on April Cargo Overhang
Russian Urals crude weakened on Thursday in a flurry of deals as traders rushed to place end-of-April cargos.
Eni sold a cargo of Urals to Total in the Baltic at dated Brent minus $1.50 for April 20-24 delivery, some 20 cents weaker than previous price estimates. Also in the Baltic, Vitol sold an early May cargo to Shell at dated Brent minus $1.35, traders said.
In the Med, Eni sold a 80,000-tonne, April 26-30 cargo to Total at dated Brent minus 65 cents and Tenergy sold an April 22-26 cargo to Glencore at dated Brent minus 70 cents, traders said. That was 50-60 cents weaker than previous price estimates.
"There was clearly a certain overhang of Urals in the market but maybe the weakening is a bit overdone now," said a trader with a major.
"I'm sure that in the next few days people will start talking about Russian refineries returning from maintenance works, which should see May exports being lower than in April. That should support the market," he added.
In lighter grades, Total bid for CPC at dated Brent minus 35 cents, slightly stronger than on Wednesday, but found no sellers.
CPC Blend loadings are set to fall by 19.7 percent on a daily basis versus the April loading plan, traders said.
The first version of the CPC Blend loading schedule for May showed volumes at 2.777 million tonnes versus 3.345 million in April.
"Higher (April) exports have come on the back of the near-completion of the first phase of expansion of the pipeline," JBC analysts said in a note.
"From a regional perspective, given that China-bound volumes will likely increase over the coming years, the expected uptick in CPC loadings will decrease the amount of crude that Kazakhstan sends to Russia that is blended into Urals."
"Over the longer-term this could deteriorate the quality of the flagship Russian blend as Kazakh crudes are of a better quality than West Siberian output," JBC said.
Russian state-controlled oil producer Gazprom Neft said it had received positive responses from Asian clients about the possibility of using euros as a settlement currency instead of the dollar.
Libya's state National Oil Corp lifted force majeure for the eastern port of Hariga at 1200 local time (1000 GMT) on Thursday, a statement from NOC said. The force majeure on the other recently re-opened port of Zueitina was still in place.
(Reporting by Dmitry Zhdannikov, editing by David Evans)