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Asia-Pacific crude: Demand firm even as refining margins weaken

[SINGAPORE] The Asia-Pacific crude market was under pressure from weakening refining margins, although oil prices near their lowest in a decade helped keep demand firm.

Spot differentials for Russia's Sakhalin Blend held steady from last month, after Sakhalin Energy sold a May 3-10 cargo in a tender to an unidentified buyer at $5.60-$5.90 a barrel above Dubai quotes, traders said.

The company also sold a cargo loading May 9-16 at around the same premium, they said.

Premiums for light grades were supported by tighter supply, with Sakhalin Energy only offering two cargoes this month, compared with five in normal months.

It was unclear if any cargoes of Australian Cossack, another light sweet grade, would be offered for April loading.

PV Oil offered 200,000 barrels of Thang Long crude loading April 18-24 in a tender that closes on Thursday.

Bangladesh Petroleum Corp (BPC) has floated an international tender to export 120,000 barrels of gas condensate for March 13-15 loading from Chittagong. The tender will close on March 1 with validity up to March 7.

Brent's premium to Dubai swaps, or Brent-Dubai Exchange of Futures for Swaps (EFS), narrowed slightly to $2.92 a barrel.

China's largest standalone independent refiner Dongming Petrochemical will reduce its crude throughput by half from the end of February as it shuts some units for maintenance, a source with direct knowledge of the matter said on Tuesday.

Crude flows through a pipeline carrying oil from Iraqi Kurdistan to Turkey are not expected to resume until Feb 29 at the earliest, a shipping source said, citing security issues.

Japan's top oil refiner JX Nippon Oil & Energy Corp will buy a roughly 10 percent stake in the Vietnam National Petroleum Group, the Nikkei business daily reported, although the two companies said nothing had been decided.

Twelve crude oil suppliers have submitted bids for Bangladesh Petroleum Corp's first tender in 15 years to buy oil products, a company executive said, as the country moves away from direct term deals with suppliers and opens up purchasing contracts.

Kazakhstan will produce 74 million tonnes of oil in 2016, said Kazakh Economy Minister Yerbolat Dosayev on Tuesday.


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