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Aramco buys for August, gasoline holds ground

Singapore, July 14, 2011

Gasoline imports by Saudi Aramco have given a boost to premiums in the Gulf this week, while a strong European market also supported the sentiment, traders said on Thursday.

'Aramco will need more in August,' one gasoline trader said, who saw the total cargoes for August amounting to around 12. Another trader said August imports could be 8-10 cargoes.

Summer demand and a turnaround in Aramco's Rabigh refinery which has shut the gasoline-producing unit since mid-April have helped boost the world's biggest oil exporter's gasoline imports to around 16 cargoes for June delivery.

For July deliveries, imports are estimated to be around 10-12 cargoes, traders said.

Saudi-based PetroRabigh said on Wednesday that it would delay the restart of its fluid catalytic cracking unit (FCC) at the 400,000 barrels-per-day (bpd) refinery to end-July from a previous plan of mid-July.

Some traders said the start-up could even be later, which would boost the state-oil giant's gasoline imports. It has already bought four cargoes for August delivery.

'I'm hearing there is a problem with the FCC. This is not part of the turnaround,' another gasoline trader said.

Two traders pegged 95 RON gasoline at $110-115 a tonne over benchmark Middle East naphtha quotes, almost unchanged from last week's $115 a tonne.

Iraq's State Oil Marketing Organisation (Somo) announced the results of its second-half products tender, traders said.

Trafigura was awarded five cargoes while Glencore won three cargoes, traders said, adding that the remaining 5 cargoes were awarded between Gunvor, Litasco and Vitol.

Two traders said premiums were around $33.75 a tonne over Mediterreanean quotes.

In Europe, physical gasoline prices were up on Wednesday on the back of bigger-than-expected decline in weekly gasoline inventories in the United States.

The outage prompted rare fuel oil exports out of Rabigh, traders said. The first two 90,000-tonne cargoes were sold for loading in the rest of July.

Traders said there could be a third one with loading up to early August.

Pakistan's fuel oil purchases were higher for June, official data showed, while traders expected imports to continue to stay high on the back of severe power shortages.

The Fujairah bunker market was fairly balanced, traders said. 'Bunkers are doing better than last week now, selling at $6-8 a tonne range,' one fuel oil trader said.

Last week Fujairah ex-wharf bunkers were at $4-7 per tonne for 380 centistoke (cst).

The low sulphur gas oil market saw regular demand from East Africa, traders said, adding the Gulf buyers were absent from the market.      Two traders pegged low sulphur gas oil, also known as 500 pm, at $3 barrel.

'There's not a lot of demand from Asia, and non from the Gulf,' one middle distillates trader said. 'It's mainly from the Red Sea, East Africa markets....500 ppm will probably hold $3 level for another while,' he said.

Traders also eyed a rare gas oil cargo from Iran, whose  fuel imports have been hit by the West's sanctions prohibiting business with the Islamic Republic.-Reuters




Tags: aramco | gasoline |

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