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Aramco Trading sells crude from Malaysia as refinery remains shut: sources
[SINGAPORE] Aramco Trading Co (ATC), has sold close to 10 million barrels of crude oil it held around Malaysia since its joint venture refinery with Petronas was shut in March following a fire, four trade sources said.
ATC's crude sales come as spot demand and prices have improved on tighter supplies after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies including Russia cut output by a record 9.7 million barrels per day (bpd).
A fire killed five people in March at the Pengerang Integrated Complex in Malaysia's southern state of Johor, forcing the closure of the facility that was set to begin full commercial operations this year.
Asian refiners typically purchase crude two months ahead so supplies for the Pengerang refinery that were booked earlier and could not be processed had to be stored in tanks and ships, the sources said.
ATC, the trading arm of Saudi Aramco, has sold various grades - including Saudi Arab Extra Light, Murban from Abu Dhabi, Agbami from Nigeria and Azeri Light from Azerbaijan - through tenders for July loading via ship-to-ship transfer at Malaysia's Linggi port, the sources said.
Buyers include north Asian refiners, oil majors and European trading companies, the sources said.
Saudi Aramco and Petronas did not respond to requests for comment.
"Those (cargoes) are from floating storage which could not be discharged," one of the sources said. The joint venture partners have not decided when they will restart the Pengerang refinery as repairs at the fire-hit diesel hydrotreating unit are ongoing, he said.
Before the shutdown, the 300,000-bpd refinery had been processing mainly sweet crude after an earlier fire at its atmospheric residue desulphurisation unit in April 2019.
The unit removes sulphur from fuel oil, which is then used to produce petrol, and had been scheduled to resume operation by mid-2020.