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Saudi Arabia Likely to Keep Oil Prices to Asia Unchanged

Saudi Arabia is expected to announce in a few days little changes to the price of its crude going to Asia in April, amid a rise in Middle Eastern oil benchmarks, a Reuters survey of refiners showed on Friday.

Saudi Aramco, the world’s top crude oil exporter, is set to keep the price of its flagship Arab Light grade for Asia for next month unchanged or raise it slightly by up to $0.20 per barrel over the Oman/Dubai average, the benchmark off which Middle Eastern crude exports to Asia are priced, the survey of six refining sources found.

Saudi Arabia typically announces its official selling prices (OSPs) for the following month around the fifth of each month, and does not comment on the pricing.

This month, the Saudis could announce the price of their crude for April after the OPEC+ decision whether to roll over the existing production cuts, a decision expected in early March. The market expects a rollover of the current cuts into the second quarter of 2024.

Last month, Saudi Arabia unexpectedly kept the price of Arab Light for March unchanged for Asia from the February price, at $1.50 a barrel over the Oman/Dubai average. The current Arab Light premium over the Middle Eastern benchmark is the lowest in more than two years.

Now Aramco is expected to stick to this policy as the Dubai market structure has strengthened while the Saudis would want to push more barrels into Asia amid the disruption to oil shipping in the Red Sea for barrels going to Europe and the Mediterranean.

“The market structure and product cracks didn't change too much compared to last month, and I think now with Red Sea shipping still having uncertainty ... probably they will want to push the barrels to Asia,” one of the refining sources told Reuters.

Saudi Arabia is expected to keep the price of the other crude grades to Asia little changed, too, according to the survey.


By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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