August 23, 2018 / 4:25 PM / a year ago

Med Crude-Urals diffs in Baltic stay firm, possible arbitrage to Asia provides support

MOSCOW, Aug 23 (Reuters) - Urals crude differentials in northwest Europe stood firm on Thursday in anticipation of a full September loading plan, while traders pointed at strong refinery margins and possible arbitrage for the grade to Asia.

* China’s Unipec, the trading arm of Asia’s largest refiner Sinopec, has bought four cargoes of Urals for loading from Russia’s Baltic Sea ports in September, and may be planning a very large crude carrier (VLCC) shipment of the grade to China, trade sources said.

* In the Platts window, Trafigura offered 100,000 tonnes of Baltic Urals for Sept. 12-16 loading at minus $0.45 a barrel to dated Brent, but withdrew.

* There were no bids or offers for Urals from Novorossiisk, Azeri BTC and CPC Blend in the Platts window.

* Production at Kazakhstan’s Kashagan oilfield has dropped since mid-August, hit by a 35-day maintenance outage, the Kazakh Energy Ministry said in response to a Reuters query.

* Kashagan oilfield operator North Caspian Operating Company (NCOC) said the work has been factored into production planning and it remains aligned with overall expectations. (Reporting by Gleb Gorodyankin; Editing by Jan Harvey) ))

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