Saudi Arabia Expected To Slash Oil Prices To Asia

Saudi Arabia, the world’s top crude oil exporter, is expected to slash the price of its flagship grade to Asia for October amid lackluster fuel demand and increased competition from crude from other regions, a Reuters survey of refiners showed on Monday.   

Saudi Arabia, which sets the pricing trend for most Middle Eastern oil exporters, typically announces its prices for the following month around the fifth of each month, and as a policy, it doesn’t comment on the price movements. The Kingdom usually sets the official selling prices (OSPs) for the following month after the monthly OPEC+ meeting. The group’s next meeting is scheduled for September 5. 

 Saudi oil for September to Asia is being set at a record-high premium over the Dubai/Oman benchmark as the Kingdom raised the price of its flagship Arab Light grade by $0.50 a barrel to a record high of $9.80 per barrel over Oman/Dubai. 

According to five refining sources Reuters polled on Monday, Saudi Arabia could slash the Arab Light prices to its key market Asia by an average of $4.50 a barrel for October loadings. The refiners expect the Arab Light’s October price to be between $3.85 and $6.30 per barrel over Oman/Dubai. 

There are two reasons for the expectations of much lower premiums over the Middle Eastern benchmarks. The first one is the fear that demand would not be strong with concerns of economic slowdown. The other one is the narrowing spread between Dubai-linked and Brent-linked cargoes, which has curbed demand for cargoes linked to the Dubai benchmark, off which Middle Eastern crudes are priced for loadings to Asia. 

Moreover, demand for cheaper crudes from West Africa and the U.S. could have also eased the perceived tightness on the Asian crude market, a refining source told Reuters. 

Another source said that some Saudi crude originally sent west is now returning to Asia because of lackluster European demand.  

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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