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Saudi Aramco to supply agreed Sep, Oct term crude volumes to China buyers, but grades may vary

Singapore — Saudi Aramco will supply all the term volumes nominated by its buyers in China for September and October-loading crude oil cargoes as it recovers from attacks on key oil facilities and replenishes stocks, but there may be changes in crude grades and slight delays, sources with direct knowledge of the matter said late Monday.

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"The company ensures that the volumes loading in September and October will meet 100% of Chinese customers' nominations," one of the sources said. "Buyers may face some delays and a shift in grades, but there is no impact on the supply volume," he added.

Several sources from companies that purchase crude from Aramco late Monday said they will receive the same volume they nominated for September and October loading.

"The total volumes are not affected, but there is some adjustment for crude grades according to internal arrangements," a source with Aramco's biggest Chinese buyer, Unipec, said.

"There is some delay, but understandable. The suppler has tried its best to meet its commitments following the serious attack," a Beijing-based crude oil trading executive said.

Aramco has seven term contract buyers in China -- the state-owned Unipec, Chinaoil, CNOOC, Sinochem, Zhenhua Oil and independent Hengli Petrochemical (Dalian) and Zhejiang Petrochemical. Unipec and Chinaoil are the trading arms of the country's refining giants Sinopec and PetroChina, respectively.

Platts reported earlier that two state-owned refineries in southern China and one in northeastern China were notified by Aramco that their lifting of October term barrels will be delayed by one or two weeks.

Meanwhile, the Arab Light and Arab Extra Light grades will mostly be replaced with Arab Medium and Arab Heavy, but this will depend on the needs of the refineries, according to Chinese end-users.

Saudi Arabia's Abqaiq processing facility and Khurais oil field were attacked on September 14, which initially shut down 5.7 million b/d of output. On Monday, the head of Aramco's trading division said the country has restored its oil production to more than 9.9 million b/d.

In January-August, China's crude inflow from the kingdom surged 51.6% year on year to 1.58 million b/d, lifting Saudi Arabia's market share to 16% from 11.6% a year earlier, latest data from China's General Administration of Customs showed.

-- Analyst Oceana Zhou, oceana.zhou@spglobal.com

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