SINGAPORE,(Reuters) - Sokol crude jumped to the widest premium since 2008, leading gains in the Asia-Pacific crude market as crack spreads for light sweet grades remain wide enough to encourage refiners to run at high rates.
Demand from Japan for direct crude burning at power plants was still supportive of prices of heavy sweet grades.
- India's state-run explorer Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) (ONGC.BO: Quote) sold via tender 700,000 barrels of Russian Sokol for loading in late June, a trading source said on Monday, at the highest premium since at least 2008.
- The cargo for loading June 28-30 was sold to South Korean refiner SK Energy at a premium of about $10.15 a barrel to Oman/Dubai quotes, the source said.
- India's largest state-run refiner Indian Oil Corp (IOC.BO: Quote) bought 4.6 million barrels of west African and Azeri sweet crude for loading in June, on top of another 4 million barrels for loading in May and June.
- In the last tender to be awarded, the first one purely of June supplies, IOC bought 2 million barrels of Nigerian crude from BP - 1 million of Bonny Light and 1 million of Qua Iboe - to be loaded into a very large crude carrier (VLCC) and a second VLCC from Shell, containing 1 million barrels of Nigerian EA and 1 million barrels of Zafiro from Equatorial Guinea.
- The company also bought a 600,000-barrel lot of Azerbaijani, Azeri Light crude from BP to be processed at IOC's refinery in Chennai.
- IOC is seeking even more sweets for June in tender closing April 20, with offers remaining valid until April 21.
- Russia's Sakhalin Energy offered 730,000 barrels of light sweet Vityaz crude for loading between late June and early July. The tender for cross-month cargo will close on April 19 with bids valid until a day later.
- Front-month Brent/Dubai Exchange of Futures for Swaps (EFS) for June rose 3 cents from Friday to $7.23 a barrel.
* MARKET NEWS
- Saudi Arabia's oil minister said on Sunday the kingdom had slashed output by 800,000 barrels per day in March due to oversupply, sending the strongest signal yet that OPEC will not act to quell soaring prices.
- High oil prices represent a potentially major burden for importers with global economic recovery still fragile, leading OPEC ministers said on Monday.
- Top Middle Eastern oil producing countries including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iran and Iraq have expressed interest in participating in two proposed new oil refineries in Indonesia, the country's energy minister said on Sunday.
- The oil market is still seeking an appropriate replacement for very high quality Libyan sweet crude oil lost due to the conflict in the North African nation and refiners are not buying proposed replacements, OPEC Secretary General Abdullah Al-Badri said on Monday.
* CRACK SPREADS
- Gas oil's May crack rose 44 cents to $21.75 a barrel, rebounding from its lowest level since March 11, while jet fuel's crack added 65 cents to $22.80.
- Fuel oil's May crack edged up 16 cents to a discount of $10.54 a barrel to Dubai crude, while June's crack climbed 19 cents to minus $10.94 a barrel.
- Naphtha CFR Japan's front-month June crack rose 80 cents to a discount of $5.97 a barrel to Brent crude, while July's crack gained 68 cents to minus $6.02 a barrel.
* OUTRIGHT PRICES
- June ICE Brent LCOc1 was at $122.88 a barrel at 0830 GMT, up $1.05 from Friday.
(Reporting by Alejandro Barbajosa and Nidhi Verma)