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Dubai futures' discount to Brent widens, eyes on China demand

Increase font size  Decrease font size Date:2019-07-16   Views:58
Sour crude benchmark Dubai futures' discount to ICE Brent widened slightly in mid-morning trade in Asia Monday, while the market will weigh fresh cues on Chinese demand, which has been driving premiums higher for Middle East barrels in recent days.

At 11 am Singapore tome (0300 GMT) Monday, September Dubai futures were valued at $63.67/b, down from $64.39/b at 4:30 pm Friday. The September Brent/Dubai EFS -- a measure of Dubai's discount to Brent -- was valued at $2.89/b, widening from $2.76/b over the same period.
China Monday reported second quarter growth in gross domestic product at 6.2% year on year, the slowest in 27 years, which may raise concerns over the country's oil demand going forward.

For now, the market will find respite in China's high refinery run rates and the recent uptick in demand on the back on an increase in refining margins.

Despite the slowing economic growth, crude oil throughput at China's domestic refineries increased 7.7% year on year to hit a record high 53.7 million mt in June, or 13.12 million b/d, preliminary data released Monday by the National Bureau of Statistics showed.

The last high was recorded at 12.73 million b/d in April.

Over the first half of 2019, total refinery crude throughput across China was 5.8% higher than in H1 2018 at 316.97 million mt, or 12.84 million b/d, NBS data showed.

In recent days strong Chinese demand has lifted premiums for Oman crude, a staple for Chinese refiners, boosting sentiment in the broader Middle East market.

Traders say several million barrels of September-loading Oman crude, along with a few cargoes of light sour Middle East grades, were concluded by sellers mid-last week.

A smaller program for Qatari Al Shaheen crude is also providing support to Middle East spot premiums. Qatar's QPSPP last week issued a tender offering two September cargoes of Al Shaheen crude, down from four cargoes offered last month.

Cash Dubai's premium to the front-month has also gained in recent days on the back of a tighter demand-supply balance. Platts last assessed September cash Dubai at a premium of $1.465/b to front-month September futures on Friday, more than double the month-to-date low of 71.5 cents/b recorded on July 3.
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