Saudi Aramco increased all of its January official selling prices for Asia and US-bound cargoes despite fears about the impact of the omicron variant on global oil demand.
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The price move follows the Dec. 2 meeting of OPEC and its allies when the group agreed to increase crude production as planned by 400,000 b/d in January, while adding the caveat it would keep the meeting "in session."
The biggest price increases were for Medium and Heavy grades to Asia, which saw the second consecutive month of increased prices.
For Asia-bound crude, Aramco boosted its Medium grade by 70 cents/b to a $3.05/b premium over Oman/Dubai and its Heavy grade by 80 cents/b to a $1.80/b premium. Super Light was raised by 30 cents/b to a $6.15/b premium while Extra Light was increased by 50 cents/b to a $4.50/b premium. Light was boosted by 60 cents/b to a $3.30/b premium.
For US-bound crudes, Aramco boosted its Extra Light OSP by 60 cents/b to a $3.50/b premium to ASCI. US-bound crudes of Light, Medium and Heavy grades were raised by 40 cents/b to a premium of $2.15/b, $1.45/b and $1/b.
Aramco and other Middle East producers were expected to raise OSPs for the month on the back of a higher Dubai structure, S&P Global Platts previously reported. The increase was expected to be 50 cents/b to $1.20/b across all Asia-bound grades, sources told Platts.
The Dubai futures spread -- understood to be a key element in OSP calculations -- averaged $3.38/b in November, rallying from an average of $2.29/b in October, Platts data showed.
The discovery of the new omicron variant has stalled the increase in crude prices while the release of strategic petroleum reserves by the US and other countries such as India and Japan put the spotlight on the OPEC+ meeting, traders said.
Aramco lowered prices for crude bound to Northwest Europe in a range of 20 cents/b for Heavy and $1.50/b for Extra Light, against the ICE Brent benchmark.
Light to Northwest Europe was lowered by $1/b to a $1.30/b discount to ICE Brent, while Medium was decreased by 60 cents/b to a $1.70/b discount.
Aramco also decreased prices for Mediterranean-bound crude, by $1.40/b for Extra Light and 30 cents/b for Heavy.