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Sour crude spreads hold firm on strong Jan spot premiums

Singapore — Market structure and intermonth spreads for Dubai crude oil futures on Monday traded in a familiar bullish range as Asia digested news of strong premiums fetched by Middle East crude cargoes over the previous week.

Notional price values pegged at 11 am in Singapore (0300 GMT) Monday showed the December/January Dubai futures spread widening to $1.23/b from an assessed $1.16/b at the close of trading on Friday.

The January/February Dubai futures spread was pegged at 85 cents/b at 11 am, also up from Friday's assessment of 80 cents/b.

Early discussion in the markets centered around several tenders that were awarded late Friday, namely Qatar Petroleum's Al-Shaheen tender, and Fuji Oil's tender seeking Middle East cargoes loading over January.

Initial talk indicated that the three Al-Shaheen cargoes offered by Qatar Petroleum could have sold for an average $3.80/b premium over Platts front-month Dubai crude assessments. The cargoes are dated for laycans over January, and are 500,000 barrels each.

Platts January cash Dubai assessments averaged at a premium of $2.95/b between November 11 and November 15, 85 cents/b under the Al-Shaheen tender average.

Qatar Petroleum had also offered a 500,000-barrel cargo of Qatar Marine crude via the same tender. The medium sour Marine cargo was to be priced in a similar manner to Al-Shaheen, as a price differential to Dubai assessments.

The unusual Marine crude offer was tracked keenly by market participants, but details on its award were yet to emerge as of Monday morning.

Market participants expect demand for sour crude cargoes to be robust this month, and price differentials to hold in premiums, they told Platts. Despite this, several cargo offers on Friday showed competitive prices in the Platts Market on Close assessment process, lower than what had been previously heard in the spot market.

France's Total offered two cargoes, 500,000 barrels each, of light sour crudes in the MOC -- one for Murban and one for Das Blend crude, on Friday at 4 pm in Singapore (0800 GMT).

Total's Murban offer initially stood at a premium of 40 cents/b to the January Murban official selling price, but the seller lowered its offer through the 30-minute process to 25 cents/b, where it stood at 4:30 pm (0830 GMT), without meeting any buying interest.

Similarly, Total's offer for Das Blend started at a premium of 30 cents/b over the January Das Blend OSP, but was lowered to 15 cents/b at the end of the MOC. No buying interest was shown for the grade.

Both cargoes stipulated a laycan of January 1-25, with B/L month pricing terms.

On Monday, a cargo of Murban was reported to have been picked up by a refiner at a premium of around 20 cents/b over the January OSP. Further details were still emerging.

-- Eesha Muneeb, eesha.muneeb@spglobal.com

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