The Middle East crude market awaited the Saudi Aramco and the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company's (Adnoc) official crude selling prices (OSP) to gauge the direction of trade for the new month.
Traders expect top oil exporter Saudi Arabia, to keep its March OSPs for Arab Light steady to the previous month, while it is expected to raise prices for its medium and heavy grades reflecting the strength of the fuel oil market.
Adnoc is expected to ease price levels for Murban as it seeks to compete for buyers. March loading cargoes of the distillate rich Murban traded in steep discounts as low as 50 cents.
The National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) cut its Iran Light prices to Asia by $2.10 a barrel from January to $2.26 a barrel premium to Oman/Dubai, the traders said on Wednesday.
BP's joint venture in Russia, TNK-BP, sold two cargoes of Russian ESPO crude for loading in March at lower premiums than the previous month after values of rival Middle Eastern grades fell on lower demand from refinery maintenance.
Dubai crude quoted by price-reporting agency Platts averaged $109.80 a barrel for January, up $3.37 from the previous month, traders said on Wednesday.
Front-month Brent/Dubai Exchange of Futures for Swaps (EFS) for March eased 7 cents to $2.80 a barrel.
March Oman traded on the DME was valued at a premium of 2.03 cents to Dubai swap quotes at 0830 GMT, using the settlement price for DME futures, the ICE one-minute marker for Singapore and the Brent-Dubai EFS as calculated by Reuters.
Simple gross refining margins for Dubai in Singapore were at $1.67 per barrel, up from an average of the last five days of $2.45, Reuters data show. Over the last year, the average margin has been about minus 72 cents per barrel.
Fuel oil's March crack was steady at a discount of $2.08 a barrel to Dubai crude.
Gasoil's March crack gained 15 cents to a premium of $18.71 a barrel to Dubai crude.
Naphtha's front-month crack firmed 39 cents to a discount of $4.07 a barrel to Brent crude.
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