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Flood of Light Crude to Asia May Weaken Regional Prices

Flood of Light Crude to Asia May Weaken Regional PricesFlood of Light Crude to Asia May Weaken Regional Prices

A flood of light crude oil set to arrive in Asia will likely push prices for regional grades lower, crimping revenues and potentially creating a supply surplus since local refiners are ill-equipped to process all of the flow.

Price differentials for Malaysian crude grades, particularly the light Kimanis grade, should decline as a surge in cargoes from the United States and Europe is due in Asia in March and April, said multiple traders who participate in the Asian regional crude market. Light crudes are grades with a lower density and typically produce more gasoline and diesel fuel when refined. BP and Trafigura are marketing at least 3 million barrels of US Eagle Ford crude in Asia, three traders said. From Europe, some 4 million barrels of unsold North Sea Forties crude are likely to arrive in Asia in March or April, three trading sources with knowledge of the matter said. 

Glencore and Azerbaijan's SOCAR each have 1 million barrels on hand, while Trafigura was offering another 2 million barrels, they said. A record 10 million barrels of North Sea crude loaded in January for Asia, close to a third of the region's total exports, Eikon data showed. Other light grades from the Mediterranean are set to come East as well. At least half of the Azeri Light for February loading should sail to India, China, Vietnam and Taiwan. Also, about 1.5 million barrels of Algerian Saharan Blend loaded in January for Asian delivery, the most since September, Eikon data showed. Still, Asian refiners are limited in their ability to run light crude since most of them have upgraded to process cheaper high-sulfur heavy grades.

"A lot of the new refineries were built to take crude with API of more than 30 degrees if not lower," a veteran oil trader said.

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