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Dubai crude market structure steady amid wait for fresh OSPs for cues

Singapore — The market structure for benchmark Dubai crude futures was steady in mid-morning trade July 8 as the market awaited the release of fresh official selling prices and monthly crude allocations from key Middle Eastern producers.

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Dubai futures intermonth spreads were little changed overnight, with the August/September spread pegged at 19 cents/b in backwardation at 11 am Singapore time (0300 GMT), stable from the Asian close on July 7. The September/October spread was pegged at a 4-cent/b backwardation, down 1 cent/b over the same period.

Spot trading activity for September has yet to commence as market participants await the release of OSPs from other Middle Eastern producers after Saudi Aramco issued it's OSPs earlier in the week.

Supply-demand fundamentals were steady in the meantime, with ongoing OPEC+ efforts supportive of the market, although recovery was limited by a tepid demand outlook, trade sources said.

OPEC slashed its crude output in June to a three-decade low, according to an S&P Global Platts survey. OPEC's 13 members pumped 22.31 million b/d in the month, the lowest since September 1990, when the launch of the first Gulf War nearly wiped out crude oil production in Iraq and Kuwait, the survey found.

As a result, OPEC and its 10 partners in the OPEC+ alliance delivered 106% of its committed production cuts, up from 85% in May, according to Platts calculations.

The demand outlook for Middle East crude looks set to remain lackluster, with Asian buyers unlikely to nominate full volumes in the current round of allocations and after Saudi Aramco announced a modest rise in OSPs.

Most market participants noted that while the price rises were widely expected, the uptick came against a backdrop of fragile refining margins and tepid buying interest.

Overall oil demand has been hammered since the COVID-19 pandemic emerged in early 2020.

While there was hope for an improvement in demand as economies gradually reopen after lockdowns in multiple countries, a resurgence in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks has dampened sentiment, market sources said.