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SINGAPORE: Middle East crude benchmarks Oman and Dubai eased for third session on Tuesday even as several spot grades were sold at the highest premiums in nearly two years on robust demand in Asia.

Singapore’s complex refining margins have been volatile over the past two months, surging to the highest since September 2019 in October but collapsing from early November to reach a more than two-month low on Tuesday.

Still trade in January-loading cargoes remained robust, with Japan’s ENEOS and India’s Reliance heard to have bought Qatari al-Shaheen crude at $3.40-$3.50 a barrel to Dubai quotes, traders said, the highest premiums in nearly two years although the levels were slightly below cash Dubai’s trades on Platts window. Qatar Energy is expected to award its al-Shaheen crude tender by Wednesday.

Demand from Japanese refiners for medium-sour grades is robust as they sought to boost their fuel oil production this winter.

ENEOS has also bought a January-loading Qatar Marine crude cargo at about 15 cents above its official selling price (OSP), traders said, while Fuji Oil has purchased a Banoco Arab Medium crude cargo at a premium of more than 20 cents a barrel to its OSP.

Russian crude grades sold in Asia fetched the highest spot premiums in 22 months for cargoes loading in January, extending gains for a fourth straight month as robust demand and firm refining margins support prices, trade sources said.

Surgutneftegaz has sold three cargoes of ESPO crude for loading between end-December and January at premiums of about $6.30-$6.40 a barrel to Dubai quotes. Mercuria bought two of the cargoes while Equinor may have purchased one, the sources said. The cargoes are to load on Dec. 31-Jan. 5, Jan. 3-8 and 6-13.

Another six ESPO cargoes are due to be sold in tenders closing later on Tuesday, the sources said.

Surgutneftegaz and Paramount Energy are offering three ESPO cargoes each for loading on Jan. 10-17, 13-20 and 17-24, they added.

Separately, Sakhalin Energy is offering four February-loading Sakhalin Blend crude cargoes in a tender to close on Thursday, one of the sources said.

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