March 20, 2012 / 6:17 PM / 5 years ago

Med Crude-Urals steady, Unipec seen buying

LONDON, March 20 (Reuters) - Russian Urals crude was steady
on Tuesday after hitting its weakest levels since May 2011
earlier in the week, prompting China's Unipec to return to the
market to buy the grade.	
    Traders said there was no activity in Urals in the Platts
window. Unipec was heard winning a tender by Russian oil
producer Surgut in the Baltic, two traders said.	
    Prices could not be confirmed but several traders said they
believed the market was little changed from Monday, when Urals
weakened in the Baltic by as much as $60 cents per barrel to
dated Brent minus $3.25 per barrel.	
    The weakening came as Russia, the world's largest oil
producer, said it would export some 3.6 million tonnes or
290,000 barrels per day from Ust Luga - a brand new terminal in
the Baltic - in the second quarter. Russia's main Baltic port of
Primorsk will export 18 million, up from 17.5 million in the
first quarter.	
    "I think differentials could hit as low as (dated Brent)
minus $5 (per barrel)," one trader said, adding that Russian
producers would struggle to place as many as 12 additional
cargoes coming out of Ust Luga on the Baltic market.	
    Traders said Ust Luga might finally export its first cargo
on Friday - delayed from November last year due to technical and
construction delays. The cargo was awarded by Surgut to trader
Gunvor, traders said.	
    "People are waiting for the loading schedules for April but
at the moment the perception is that Primorsk will get decent
volumes. And on top of that you get fresh loadings from Ust
Luga," one trader with a major said.	
    He added that a lot of majors and refiners were preparing
for seasonal maintenances both in the Baltic and the
Mediterranean, which could add to the bearish sentiment.	
    A trader with a major house said the sentiment in the
Mediterranean was less bearish because the Black Sea port of
Novorossiisk was not expected to get a boost in loadings in
April.	
    "There is definitely a shortage of Aframax cargoes and a lot
of unsold Suezmax," he said referring to 80,000 and
140,000-tonne tankers respectively.	
	
 (Reporting by Dmitry Zhdannikov and Gleb Gorodyankin; Editing
by Anthony Barker)

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