Med Crude-Urals Diffs Remain High Despite Weak Refinery Margins


MOSCOW, Jan 10 (Reuters) - Urals crude differentials remained high on Wednesday despite weak refinery margins, while Azeri BTC was offered lower, trade sources said.

A rally in global oil prices is biting into refiners' profits and may result in softer differentials for Russia's key export blend for loading in February and March, they added.

Complex oil plants cracking Urals in the Mediterranean stood to make a profit of $1.96 a barrel over the last five days, down from $2.83 a barrel over 15 days and $5.26 over the last year, a Reuters model showed.

Paper swaps for Urals indicated a weaker market in February and March, while the market for January-loading barrels was 'overdone', trade sources said.

In the Platts window, Vitol offered 100,000 tonnes of Urals in the Baltic for Jan. 30 -Feb. 3 loading down to minus $0.35 a barrel to dated Brent before withdrawing.

Urals differentials in the Baltic were seen at minus $0.55 a barrel on Tuesday.

There were no bids and offers for Urals in the Mediterranean in the Platts window on Wednesday, while assessments for the grade softened by some 5-10 cents a barrel, traders said.

In lighter grades SOCAR offered 650,000 barrels of Azeri BTC for Feb. 5-9 loading down to a premium of $1.90 a barrel, but withdrew.

PetroChina has nearly doubled the amount of Russian crude being processed at its refinery in Dalian, the company's biggest, since January, as a new supply agreement has come into effect, a senior industry source with direct knowledge of the matter said on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Gleb Gorodyankin; Editing by Adrian Croft)


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