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Singapore — Brazil's Petrobras is set to export a new grade of crude oil, known as Buzios, from the last quarter of 2018, sources close to the matter told S&P Global Platts Monday.

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Exports of the new crude grade would be mainly directed towards China, one of the sources said.

Production of Buzios commenced in April 2018, in the pre-salt region of the Santos Basin, about 200 km off the coast of Rio de Janeiro, via platform P-74, according to a notice issued by Petrobras in April.

In addition to P-74, four more platforms will be allocated to this field between 2018 and 2021, each with capacity to process up to 150,000 barrels of oil and 6 million cu m of gas daily, the company said.

Buzios is a medium heavy crude, rich in middle and heavy distillates, with an API gravity of around 28.4 degrees. The sulfur content is around 0.31%.

The launch of this crude would ramp up Petrobras' total exports to around 750,000 b/d in 2019, sources close to the company said.

Brazil was the second-largest supplier of crude to China in June, just 100,000 mt less than Angola at around 1.15 million mt, down 2.7% month on month.

Strong buying interest from independent refineries in China in the first half of 2018 pushed up total imports from Brazil in the period to 8.5 million mt, 67.7% higher year on year.

In addition to Brazil's traditional grades -- Lula, Lapa, Iracema and Sapinhoa -- independent refiner Tianhong Petrochemical bought 40,000 mt of Mero crude in June, after the first Mero crude was brought into China by Vitol in May.

Mero is a new crude with an API gravity of around 28.6 degrees and sulfur content of around 0.32%.

--Avantika Ramesh, avantika.ramesh@spglobal.com

--Edited by Geetha Narayanasamy, geetha.narayanasamy@spglobal.com