India refiners in talks with Iraq on strategic reserves

Updated 03 June 2015

India refiners in talks with Iraq on strategic reserves

NEW DELHI: State refiners Indian Oil Corp. and Hindustan Petroleum Corp. are holding talks with Iraq’s national oil company to buy 4 million barrels of Basra light crude oil for India’s strategic petroleum reserves (SPRs), three sources said.
India in March asked the state refiners to each seek two very large crude carriers (VLCCs) of Iraq’s Basra crude oil for arrival in May-June totalling 8 million barrels for the reserves in the coastal city of Vizag in southern Andhra Pradesh state.
But after being faced with having to pay a premium for spot oil purchases the refiners had decided to directly negotiate with Iraq’s State Oil Marketing Organization (SOMO), said the sources with knowledge of the talks.
So far the indications were that SOMO would supply the refiners with Basra Light crude at the official selling price, said one of the sources, who declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the issue.
The sources said the refiners were looking for the oil supplies to arrive in the next two to three months.
Hindustan Petroleum Corp. (HPCL) declined to comment.
Indian Oil Corp. (IOC) and SOMO did not immediately respond to e-mails seeking comment.
In a filing to Bombay Stock Exchange IOC clarified that the government has asked it and HPCL to procure crude oil from Iraq for Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserve Ltd.
IOC said it acted as facilitator for imports.
HPCL last month awarded a tender for June loading to European trader BP at $1.40 a barrel above the official selling price (OSP).
IOC, the country’s biggest refiner, agreed to pay a premium of 50-60 cents a barrel to Chinese trader Unipec for a VLCC arriving in mid-June.
“The spot market is getting pricey now,” said an Asian oil trader, highlighting recent spikes in Basra light premiums.
“I think SOMO’s ambition to push the OSP for Basra Light higher is achievable now.”
Spot premiums for Basra light crude hit a multi-year high after Iraq cut supply of the grade to export more of its new heavy grade in June.
In May, Iraq set the price for Basra Light cargoes loading this month at minus $2.55 a barrel against the average of Oman/Dubai quotes, up 25 cents from the previous month.
SOMO is expected to raise the price for July-loading cargoes next week.OSP/
India’s finance ministry has set aside 24 billion rupees (about $375 million) from revised budget estimates for the current fiscal year to pay for filling its first SPR allocation.
The Vizag facility has two compartments of 7.55 million barrels and 2.20 million barrels. The smaller compartment will be used by HPCL for its 166,000 barrel-per-day Vizag refinery.
HPCL is using Nigerian Qua Iboe oil supplied by Unipec for the smaller compartment.
A total of three SPRs in the south of India will hold more than 36 million barrels of oil, enough to meet about 13 days demand in India in case of a supply disruption or extreme price volatility.
The two other SPRs, at Padur and Mangalore in southern Karnataka state, will have a capacity of 29.3 million barrels and are expected to be ready by October.


WEEKLY ENERGY RECAP: Keeping things in balance

Updated 08 December 2019

WEEKLY ENERGY RECAP: Keeping things in balance

  • The over-compliance will result in cuts of 1.7 million bpd

Brent crude rose above $64 per barrel after OPEC+ producers unanimously agreed to deepen output cuts by 503,000 barrels per day (bpd) to a total 1.7 million bpd till the end of the first quarter of 2020.

The breakdown is that OPEC producers are due to cut 372,000 bpd and non-OPEC producers to cut 131,000 bpd.

Current market dynamics led to this decision as oil price-positive news outweighed more bearish developments in the US-China trade narrative that has weighed on oil prices throughout the year, with US crude exports rising to a record 3.4 million bpd in October versus 3.1 million bpd in September.

OPEC November crude oil output levels at 29.8 million bpd show that producers were already overcomplying with its current 1.2 million bpd output cuts deal by around 400,000 bpd. 

The over-compliance will result in cuts of 1.7 million bpd, especially when Saudi Arabia continues to voluntarily cut more than its share.

This makes the agreed 1.7 million bpd output cuts pragmatic since it won’t taken any barrels out of the market.

It isn’t a matter of OPEC making room in the market for other additional supplies from non-OPEC sources, as OPEC barrels can’t be easily replaced.

Instead, this is about avoiding any oversupply that might damage the global supply-demand balance.

Saudi energy minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman has effectively kept his promise and managed to smoothly forge a consensus among OPEC and non-OPEC producers.

He has also successfully managed the 24-country coalition of OPEC+ including Russia in reaching an agreement.

Despite suggestions otherwise in recent coverage of the Vienna meeting, the deeper cuts announced on Friday have nothing to do with the Aramco IPO. Let’s remember this meeting was scheduled six months ago and the IPO has been in the works for much longer.

The Aramco share sale did not target a specific oil price. If that was a motivating factor it could easily have chosen another time.