Turkish, Iraqi officials discuss resuming Kirkuk oil exports

MOSCOW (MRC) — A Turkish energy delegation has met with Iraqi top oil officials in Baghdad to discuss issues including the resumption of Kirkuk oil exports via the Turkish port of Ceyhan, Iraq's oil ministry said in a statement on Thursday, as per Hydrocarbonprocessing.

Exports from oilfields in Kirkuk have been on hold since Iraqi government forces took control of them from the Kurds last month in retaliation for a Kurdish referendum on independence which was widely opposed by Turkey, Iran and Western powers. "A high level Turkish energy delegation met with senior oil officials, including officials from state-run SOMO, to discuss ways to restart Kirkuk oil exports," the statement said.

Baghdad's meeting was attended by senior officials from the Turkish energy ministry, state-owned energy company TPAO and Turkish pipeline operator Botas, according to the oil ministry.

"The two parties discussed financial and technical issues which delay Kirkuk oil exports resumption. The talks are to be completed in Ankara," the statement said. Iraqi oil officials accuse Kurdish authorities of not responding to requests made by the oil ministry to use the Kurdish pipeline to resume exports from Kirkuk.

Iraq needs at least three months to repair an old pipeline which was shipping Kirkuk crude to Ceyhan port in Turkey, SOMO has said. The main 600,000 bpd Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline had been offline since March 2014 following insurgent attacks.

S.Koreas Oct crude oil imports from Iran down 9.5% on-month

MOSCOW (MRC) — South Korea's imports of Iranian crude oil fell 9.5% in October from the previous month as the Middle Eastern country cut crude and condensate exports to Asia due to production setbacks, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

South Korea, one of Iran's main Asian clients, brought in 1.65 MMt of Iranian crude in October, or 390,675 bpd, customs data showed on Wednesday. That is a 9.5% decline from 1.83 MMt in September, but still up nearly 83% from last year.

Iran is South Korea's main supplier of ultra-light oil, also known as condensate, but the data does not provide a breakdown of imports. The drop in Iran's oil exports to South Korea comes amid ongoing efforts by Tehran to ramp up its oil output since sanctions were lifted last year in a bid to recoup its lost market share.

But Iran has experienced production setbacks and reduced its condensate shipments due to a "technical problem" at the South Pars field that has prompted 1–2 mos of maintenance, the National Iranian Oil Company's Director of International Affairs Saeid Khoshrou told Reuters in late September. Over January-October this year, oil shipments from Iran jumped 46.5% to about 15.7 MMt, or 378,447 bpd, versus 10.72 MMt during the same period a year ago, according to the customs data.

Overall, the world's No.5 crude importer's total imports in October were 12.44 MMt, or 2.94 MMbpd, up 7.4% from 11.59 MMt a year earlier, the data showed. Although South Korea's total crude imports increased last month on-year, its crude imports from Saudi Arabia dropped 30.2% to around 2.7 MMt in October, or 634,876 bpd, from a year ago as the kingdom continues to curb its oil production as part of the OPEC-led supply cut deal to clear global oversupply.

For the first 10 mos of 2017, Korea's crude oil imports climbed 3.8% to 122.95 MMt, or 2.96 MMbpd, compared with 118.44 MMt over the same period last year. South Korea's final October crude imports data is set to be released by state-run Korea National Oil Corp (KNOC) later this month.

Petrobras CEO says to discuss refining partnership with CNPC CEO

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Petrobras Chief Executive Officer Pedro Parente said he will meet this month with the CEO of China National Petroleum Corp in Brazil to discuss the details of their partnership to build a refinery complex in Rio de Janeiro, reported Reuters.

Parente told reporters on the sidelines of a conference in New York that the stake CNPC will have in the refinery is not yet defined. Discussions between Petroleo Brasileiro SA, as the company is formally known, and the Chinese company began last month.

Parente added that said he expects to have a first agreement with the government on the revaluation of stakes in offshore oil blocks known as "Transfer of Rights" areas by the end of 2017.

During a panel in the same conference, Brazilian Energy Minister Fernando Coelho said the government wants to conclude the talks “as soon as possible.”

As MRC wrote before, in late December 2016m, Petrobras said its board had approved the sale of two petrochemical companies, Petroquimica Suape and Citepe, to Mexico's Alpek SAB de CV for USD385 million. And in April 2017, Alpek, S.A.B. de C.V. announced that it obtained all necessary corporate approvals to acquire 100% of PetroquimicaSuape and Citepe from Petrobras for USD385 MM.

Headquartered in Rio de Janeiro, Petrobras is an integrated energy firm. Petrobras' activities include exploration, exploitation and production of oil from reservoir wells, shale and other rocks as well as refining, processing, trade and transport of oil and oil products, natural gas and other fluid hydrocarbons, in addition to other energy-related activities.

Chinas oil refiners rush to cash in on bumper profits

MOSCOW (MRC) — Chinese oil refiners are churning out record amounts of fuel in the last quarter of 2017, looking to cash in on the best refining profits in nearly 2 yr after a rally in diesel and gasoline prices, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

Officials at five state-owned oil processors said they are refining and shipping as much product as possible after receiving generous export quotas. That is creating a domestic shortage that China's independent refiners—often called teapots—are rushing to meet, while also raising their output to profit from a hike in state-controlled gasoline and diesel retail prices.

"With major oil companies ramping up exports to use their additional quota, regions such as northeastern provinces showed tightness, giving teapots more space to sell their products domestically," said Gao Jian, an oil analyst with China Sublime Information Group.

Wholesales diesel prices quoted by major independent refiners gained about USD90.40 in the last two weeks to USD994.40/t, while gasoline prices rose to USD949.20/t, both hitting the highest level in two years, data from Zibo Longzhong Information Group showed.

Four independent refiners in Shandong, with a combined 18 MMt of annual crude processing capacity are pushing out as much diesel and gasoline as possible due to strong domestic demand, said officials at the processing plants. The uptake is resulting in low fuel inventories at the refineries ahead of winter, and they will likely need to keep run rates high to replenish stocks. This tightening has also lifted refining margins.

Profits at the independents to process a ton of crude rose to USD120.49/t this month, highest since early 2016, data provided by China's Sublime Information Group showed. For state-owned majors, margins to process Daqing crude touched 710 yuan/t, best level in a year, according to data from Zibo Longzhong Information Group.

The higher profits come despite a 40% surge in underlying crude prices since July. With margins higher, China's refiners raised overall crude processing to near record levels in October, with runs rising by 7.4% from September to 50.51 MMt.

The margins are a turnaround for the independents, who struggled to break even this summer amid a pricing war with major refiners Sinopec and PetroChina. Sinopec and PetroChina own the five refineries that officials said were pumping up runs to maximize fuel exports.

Saudi Arabia to supply full December crude volumes to three North Asian refiners

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter, will supply full contractual volumes of crude to three North Asian refiners in December, as per Hydrocarbonprocessing with reference to three sources with direct knowledge of the matter.

It was not immediately clear if state oil company Saudi Aramco would keep supplies steady to other buyers in the region as some are yet to receive their allocations for the month, the trade sources said.

In early November, the producer raised December official selling prices for crude cargoes to Asia to multi-year highs on robust demand from the region.

Last month, Saudi Aramco trimmed supplies to at least three Japanese buyers and one in South Korea by up to 10% across different Saudi crude grades for November loading as maintenance at oil fields reduced output.

As MRC wrote previously, in June 2016, Saudi Arabian Oil Co. and Saudi Basic Industries Corp. became one step closer to building their first plant to process crude directly into chemicals, cutting out a link in the production chain from hydrocarbons to the finished products that go into plastics and other consumer goods. The state-owned companies signed an agreement to study such a project to be located in Saudi Arabia. A joint venture is possible if the companies decide to move ahead after the study is completed. Oil companies normally refine crude into transportation fuels including gasoline and diesel and leave byproducts such as naphtha to be processed separately into chemicals.

Saudi Aramco is an integrated oil and chemicals company, a global leader in hydrocarbon production, refining processes and distribution, as well as one of the largest global oil exporters. It manages proven reserves of crude oil and condensate estimated at 261.1bn barrels, and produces 9.54 million bbl daily. Headquartered in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, the company employs over 61,000 staff in 77 countries.