Spot differentials for Russian Urals firmed further on Thursday on Czech demand and the end of Polish PKN maintenance, a large sour crude consumer, while Azeri Light showed weakness after a window offer received no bids. Russian Urals was absent from the Platts window but Socar offered a cargo of Azeri Light down to dated Brent plus $3.45
cif Mediterranean, showing the grade is not immune to the plunge other light sweet grades have shown, such as Kazak CPC Blend on Wednesday.
Libya's state oil company NOC lowered its June OSP for Es Sider for the first time in several months to dated Brent plus
85 cents from dated Brent plus $1.00 in May. The grade was trading far below the May OSP at around dated Brent plus 50 cents.
The OSPs for other Libyan grades El Sharara and Mellitah were lowered by 15 cents. Prices on Libya's two heavy sour
grades Bouri and Al Jurf were raised as the latter in particular is seen as a replacement for Iranian crude. Bu Attifel, Amna and Zueitina were also raised. Russian Urals prices showed greater strength in Northwest Europe after tender results emerged, narrowing the price gap between North and South.
"Prices are very impressive. But if people are talking about prices in the Med in the minus 10-15 cents area or even flat to dated then the arbitrage between the north and south might still be open," one trader said.
Surgut was believed to have awarded its two Primorsk loading June 1-2 and 4-5 at dated Brent minus 85-95 cents cif Rotterdam while its Ust Luga cargo was heard sold at dated Brent minus $1.00. Statoil won one of the cargoes, traders said, while other possible winners were BP, Repsol and Gunvor. Vitol was the winner of TNK-BP's tender for a 140,000-tonne cargo from Novorossiisk loading June 1-6, several sources said.
Russia, the world's largest oil producer, faces domestic fuel shortages after authorities restricted the transport of
crude oil by rail, forcing several refiners to cut production, industry and market sources said.
However, it is unlikely to dent crude exports, as Russia uses pipelines as its main method of transporting oil abroad.