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SINGAPORE: Asian jet fuel refining margins inched up on Tuesday as feedstock crude prices slumped, but the cracks held close to their weakest levels in over 2-1/2 months as the new Omicron coronavirus variant threatens a recovery in air travel.

Refining profit margins, also known as cracks, for jet fuel were at $7.10 per barrel over Dubai crude during Asian trading hours, compared with Monday’s $6.92 a barrel, which was the lowest since Sept. 15.

The heavily mutated and potentially more contagious new variant, first reported in southern Africa, has now been detected in several countries including Australia, Belgium, Britain, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Israel, Italy, and the Netherlands.

Hong Kong expanded a ban on entry for non-residents from several countries, the latest to expand travel curbs after Israel and Japan announced border closures to all foreign travellers, while Britain and Australia also have tightened rules for all arrivals in response to the new variant.

Hundreds and thousands of would-be travellers, who made travel plans as border curbs eased and were eagerly waiting to see their families, are now considering to cancel or delay their trips in response to fresh curbs prompted by the Omicron variant.

Cash differentials for jet fuel were at a premium of 35 cents per barrel to Singapore quotes.

No gasoil deals, no jet fuel trades. Oil prices tumbled more than 3% on Tuesday after Moderna’s CEO cast doubt on the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines against the Omicron coronavirus variant, spooking financial markets and adding to worries about oil demand.

Indonesia’s 2022 unblended biodiesel consumption is seen at 10 million kilolitres (KL), up from the targeted 9.2 million KL this year, a document presented by senior energy ministry official, Dadan Kusdiana, showed on Tuesday.

This year’s consumption may also surpass the target as demand for fuel recovered from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, Dadan said.

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