W. Africa Crude-Trading muted pending tender results, backwardation weighs

LONDON, May 30 (Reuters) – Spot trading paused as market participants awaited the outcomes on tenders by Indonesia’s Pertamina and India’s IOC set to be awarded on Thursday, while freight costs and market structure helped discourage buying in key Asian markets.

* Heavier crudes remain highly attractive given the months-long shortages of Iranian and Venezuelan grades due to U.S. sanctions and ahead of IMO 2020 regulations.

* Sellers perceive the gap in the market and have offered heavier grades at all-time high prices, but a range of factors have coalesced to dampen Asian interest and drive differentials down.

* Asian product margins are seen to be far down for fuel oil and naphtha, discouraging imports.

* Steep backwardation and spiking freight rates have put a cap on demand for faraway barrels.

* Angolan crude was seen to be trading more slowly for July loading, with about 20 cargoes remaining around two weeks after its loading programme emerged.

* Offers for both heavier and lighter Angolan grades have been revised down by around 20 to 30 cents in recent days amid scant interest in the high prices, traders said.

* A cargo of Republic of Congo’s Djeno, usually a highly prized variety for being heavy and sweet, was heard to have attracted no interest despite being discounted by 30-40 cents.

* Around 9 cargoes of the Congolese crude were heard to remain for July on top of several for June.

* Saudi Arabia is expected to raise prices for all crude grades it sells to Asia in July for a third straight month after Middle East crude benchmarks jumped, trade sources said.

* Saudi official prices tend to set the standard for neighbouring producers like Iraq and Kuwait.

* Nigerian grades Qua Iboe and Bonny Light continued to be offered at their highest levels in years, though Asian demand had yet to be firmly established and Western demand was seen to be relatively flat.

* Differentials for Urals and Med crude were seen to be slipping, further undermining the attractiveness of comparable Nigerian grades.

RELATED NEWS

* U.S. crude stocks fell last week, while gasoline stocks increased and distillate inventories fell, the Energy Information Administration said on Thursday.

* Oil exports from Iraq’s southern ports on the Gulf have risen to 3.454 million barrels per day (bpd) so far this month, two oil officials told Reuters on Thursday. (Reporting by Noah Browning Editing by Alexandra Hudson) ))

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