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Saudi Arabia Expected To Raise March Oil Prices On Robust Demand  

Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, is expected to lift the official selling prices of all its crude grades sold in Asia next month on the back of solid demand and refining margins, refining sources told a Reuters survey this week.

Saudi Arabia usually sets the official selling prices (OSPs) of its crude for the following month around the fifth of each month, typically after the monthly OPEC+ meeting, which is scheduled for February 2.

The Kingdom is expected to increase all its prices for Asia for March, seven refining sources told Reuters in a flash survey on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The expected price hike would follow a cut for the February prices announced in early January, when Saudi Arabia lowered its OSPs to the lowest premium to regional benchmarks in three months, amid the rapid spread of Omicron and higher OPEC+ supply.

Expectations for March, however, are for an increase in the Saudi OSPs, due to higher Middle East benchmarks off which the crude going to Asia is priced, resilient demand in the Omicron wave, and strengthened refining margins for jet fuel and gasoil, the Asian refining sources told Reuters.

Saudi Arabia’s flagship Arab Light crude grade for the Asian market in March could be lifted by around $0.60 per barrel from the February price, the sources added.

For February, the Saudis had reduced the price of Arab Light for Asia by $1.10 a barrel to $2.20 per barrel over the Oman/Dubai benchmark, off which Middle Eastern exports to Asia are being priced. The premium over Oman/Dubai is the lowest for the Arab Light grade in three months.

For March, Reuters’ refining sources expect the price of Arab Light to rise by between $0.45 and $0.80 per barrel from the February price to a premium of $2.65 to $3.00 a barrel over Oman/Dubai.

Stronger jet fuel and gasoil margins suggest that the lighter grades could see higher price hikes than the heavier crude varieties, the refining sources told Reuters.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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