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DUBAI FUTURES: Brent/Dubai April EFS, intermonths widen; Asian spot demand limited

New York — The front-month Exchange of Futures for Swaps widened midmorning Asia trading Feb. 23 although demand from the region continues to remain weak as the month winds down.

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The April EFS was valued at $3/b at 11 am Singapore time (0300 GMT) on Feb. 23, widening 19 cents/b from the Asian close on Feb. 22, S&P Global Platts data showed.

The Brent/Dubai EFS is a key indicator of the spread between light, sweet and heavy, sour crudes, and a wide EFS makes crude priced against Dubai more economically attractive for Asian refiners compared with Brent-linked ones.

"Everyone is covered for the month. Some tenders out for regional crudes but otherwise there's limited demand in the market," said a trader in Singapore.

Anticipation of a surge in purchases from China post Lunar New Year holidays did not materialize as much as the market was expecting, traders said.

"The teapots [Chinese independent refiners] won't buy as the high oil prices hurt their margins. They have no desire to increase refinery runs at these levels," said the trader.

Apart from China, demand from other Asian countries seemed limited with focus shifting to the next trading cycle for May-loading barrels.

Market participants will also keenly watch the outcome of the OPEC+ meeting, scheduled for the week starting Feb. 28.

The coalition is expected to ease supplies, which in turn could alter the demand-supply fundamentals in the Middle East crude market, said a crude oil trader.

At midmorning Singapore time (0300 GMT), the April/May Dubai time spread was valued at 58 cents/b, widening 12 cents/b from the previous day, Platts data showed.

The May/June Dubai intermonth spread was pegged at 60 cents/b, widening 7 cents/b from the Asia close Feb. 22, the data showed.