Oman trading firm seeks Asia expansion
Singapore, May 19, 2012
Oman Trading International (OTI) has sold what could be its first diesel cargo into India, as the company looks to expand its trading activities into Asia, industry sources said yesterday.
The company, which is a joint venture between state-owned Oman Oil Company and Swiss-based trader Vitol, was set up in 2006 but has only in recent years been seen active in the spot market for oil products, traders said.
OTI has in the past supplied the occasional jet fuel cargoes to Pakistan and kerosene cargoes to India, but this is the first time the company was seen to be supplying diesel into India, they added.
"They're mainly seen as a buyer of petrol and occasional seller of jet fuel, but I've hardly seen them being active in diesel," said a Singapore-based trader.
OTI was awarded a tender by India's Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) for a combination cargo of 15,000 tonnes of 340 parts-per-million (ppm) sulphur diesel and 15,000 tonnes of 45 ppm sulphur diesel.
BPCL paid a premium of $6.50 a barrel over Middle East quotes for the cargo, which is to be delivered into Kandla over May 28-30, traders said.
"Oman Trading last sold a kerosene cargo to BPCL in March or April 2011, but has not sold any diesel cargoes to the company," said one of the sources familiar with the matter.
OTI has around 200,000 cubic metres of storage for light and middle distillates out of a total 1.285 million cubic metres of oil storage in the Port of Sohar, a deep-sea port in the Sultanate of Oman.
The company is the trading arm of Oman Oil Refineries and Petroleum Industries Company which operates the 116,000 barrels-per-day Sohar refinery, which has also been operational since 2006.
"OTI has one of the only low sulphur diesel streams out of Sohar, so this puts them in the privileged position for India which uses the low sulphur 350 ppm and 50 ppm specification," said a trader based in the Middle East.
Middle East refiners mainly produce and market the medium sulphur 500 ppm sulphur diesel which is the grade most frequently used by countries across the Gulf region.
Better freight economics from the Middle East to the west coast of India could also have provided an incentive for the company to participate in the tender, another trader said.
"At the levels that got done for the tender, it looks good for both the buyer and also for the seller as the freight is cheaper from the Middle East compared with from Singapore," he added.
Oman plans to boost capacity at its Sohar refinery by up to 50 per cent by 2016 to satisfy its own rapidly rising fuel demand.
According to the company website, OTI manages 4m tonnes of petroleum products imports and exports every year, including feedstocks and blend components.