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Saudi Arabia Raises Oil Prices for Asia

Saudi Arabia raised the official selling prices of its crude for Asian buyers following the extension of the OPEC+ production cut agreement until the end of the first half of the year.

The price for the country’s flagship Arab Light grade was raised by $0.20 per barrel over the Oman/Dubai average, Reuters reported, meaning April deliveries will cost $1.70 per barrel more than the Oman/Dubai average, up from $1.50 per barrel this month.

At the same time, Aramco lowered its prices for European buyers, by between $0.60 and $0.70 per barrel. Prices for sales to the United States were virtually unchanged.

The price hike comes despite expectations by some in the oil industry that the Saudis would leave the Aril prices unchanged from March.

"The market structure and product cracks didn't change too much compared to last month, and I think now with Red Sea shipping still having uncertainty ... probably they will want to push the barrels to Asia," one unnamed source from the downstream industry told Reuters earlier this month.

OPEC+ last weekend agreed to extend its production cuts as benchmark prices remained stubbornly range-bound, largely on expectations of weak demand growth and additional supply from non-OPEC producers that could satisfy most of the new demands coming this year.

Not everyone agrees that it would be enough. Some, including the EIA, expect much weaker production growth in the U.S., which is regularly given as an example of the non-OPEC supply that is expected to cover additional demand. The actual demand growth rate for the year will only become known much later. Some do not exclude a deficit in oil markets.

Most analysts, however, expect oil prices to remain around where they are now throughout the year driven by slow economic growth that normally tends to sap demand for oil and gas.


By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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