KSA may drop crude prices for Asian buyers

Updated 03 February 2013
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KSA may drop crude prices for Asian buyers

The Kingdom may lower its official selling prices for all crude grades for its Asian buyers in March on expectations of weaker demand due to refinery maintenance and warmer weather, a Reuters survey showed.
Saudi Arabia may lower the OSPs for Arab Light and Arab Medium by a dollar per barrel, while Arab Heavy and Arab Extra Light may be cut by 65 cents and 90 cents each, according to the median of estimates from six traders and refiners.
Saudi crude OSPs are usually released around the fifth of each month, and set the trend for Iranian, Kuwaiti and Iraqi prices, affecting some 7 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude bound for Asia.
Spot differentials for March cargoes, which traded last month, weakened considerably over January as refiners from north Asia cut their purchases. A weak Dubai market added further pressure, Reuters reported.
North Asian refiners, who had previously driven prices higher as they stepped up winter buying, slowed their purchases ahead of a heavy refinery maintenance period that kicks off in the second quarter.
“The weak Dubai time-spreads and refinery turnarounds will be the main factors affecting OSPs,” a trader with a western oil major told Reuters.
The front-month Dubai spread narrowed sharply to 10 cents a barrel in backwardation on Jan 31 and dropped to as little as 3 cents per barrel last week. That compares with 40 cents on Dec. 31 and 80 cents in late November.
Immediate prices are higher than those in future months in a backwardated market, suggesting stronger demand for near-term cargoes. But the narrowing to near-zero levels suggests that the strong prompt demand seen in earlier months may be dying out.
Not only is buying by refiners in Japan and South Korea expected to wane as units head into planned maintenance, seasonally warmer weather in April will also likely cut demand for heating fuels.
Complex refinery margins steadily increased during January, to $ 8.50 per barrel from $5.50 at the start of the month, while product cracks — the profit or loss made by a refinery by processing crude into specific products — remained steady, suggesting demand for lighter grades may be stable.
Saudi Aramco sets its crude prices based on recommendations from customers, and after calculating the change in value of its oil over the past month, considering yields and product prices, Reuters reported.


Omani expat visa ban extended for certain professions

Updated 28 May 2018
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Omani expat visa ban extended for certain professions

DUBAI: Oman’s expat visa ban is being extended for six months and extra sectors have been introduced, national daily Times of Oman reported, citing the Ministry of Manpower.
The additional areas of work being placed on the ban include carpentry, metal, aluminum workshops, brick factories.
Professions already in the ban include sales, construction, cleaning and media.
“An update will be issued regarding this decision once the six-month period temporary ban is completed,” an official from the Ministry of Manpower said.
The Omanization drive is part of a government’s push to recruit more Omani nationals, a similar push is underway across the GCC where countries like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have also been trying to increase the number of locals in employment.
Earlier this year a six-month visa ban on hiring expats was imposed across 87 industries, including media, engineering, marketing and sales, accounting and finance, IT, insurance, technicians, administration and HR.