SINGAPORE: Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia is in August expected to cut the price for flagship Arab Light crude from the highest in four years, after refining margins in Asia dropped to a two-year low, trade sources said on Monday.
The official selling price (OSP) for Arab Light crude could fall by 20-40 cents a barrel in August, a Reuters survey of six Asian refiners and traders showed.
The grade’s July OSP rose by 20 cents to a premium of $2.10 a barrel to the average of Platts Oman and Dubai quotes, the highest since July 2014.
“Arab Super Light, Arab Extra Light and Arab Light all need price adjustments to stay competitive with other light grades,” said a trader with a North Asian firm, adding that there were ample supplies of such oil in the market.
Saudi Arabia has boosted supply to 10.70 million barrels per day in June, close to a record-high and up 700,000 bpd from May, a Reuters survey showed last week, a sign the kingdom wants to make up shortfalls elsewhere in the group and moderate prices.
Also, Asia’s oil refining margins dropped to their lowest in two years last week, dragged down by lower gasoline margins as refiners have ramped up output after completing maintenance and as China stepped up exports.
The average monthly gasoline margins for Asia dropped to $5.61 in June, the lowest monthly level since August 2016, while June naphtha profits have also fallen to the lowest monthly average in two months, Reuters data showed.
On the other hand, a recovery in fuel oil margins and robust summer demand will support Arab Medium and Arab Heavy OSPs, leading to steady or higher prices in August, five of the six survey respondents said.
Medium-heavy sour crude supplies are also tightening as Venezuelan exports decline, while imminent U.S. sanctions threatened to cut off exports from Iran, they said.
Saudi crude OSPs are usually released around the fifth of each month, and set the trend for Iranian, Kuwaiti and Iraqi prices, affecting more than 12 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude bound for Asia.
State oil giant Saudi Aramco sets its crude prices based on recommendations from customers and after calculating the change in the value of its oil over the past month, based on yields and product prices.
Saudi Aramco officials as a matter of policy do not comment on the kingdom’s monthly OSPs. - Reuters