S.Korea's SK Energy buys Russian Urals crude for first time in 10 years

SEOUL (Reuters) -- SK Energy has bought Russian Urals crude for the first time in 10 years, a spokeswoman for the parent company of South Korea's top refiner said on Friday.

Photo Courtesy of Reuters.
Photo Courtesy of Reuters.

SK Energy has purchased 1 million barrels of the Urals grade of crude for arrival in late March or early April, said Kim Woo-kyung at SK Innovation.

She said the firm had taken the step as supplies of some Middle Eastern crude had tightened in the wake of output curbs by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and other producers.

"Dubai crude supply is tight in Asia after the OPEC cut deal, making other crude outside the region more economical," she said, adding that shipping fees had also been dropping as winter faded.

The oil was sold by Litasco, the trading arm of Russia's Lukoil, according to trade sources in Europe. They did not want to be identified as they were not authorized to speak with media.

According to oil trade flow data on Thomson Reuters Eikon, South Korea last took the Urals grade in July 2015.

Asia has been ramping up purchases of Russian crude, with China importing Urals oil early this year to feed its independent refiners, trade sources have said.

Oil trade flows data also showed that a Suezmax tanker bound for South Korea has been loading the Urals grade.

Reporting by Jane Chung in SEOUL; Additional reporting by Florence Tan in SINGAPORE, Olga Yagova in MOSCOW and Libby George in LONDON; Editing by Joseph Radford

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