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Saudi Arabia raises oil prices for Asia and Europe for April


Saudi Arabia indicated that it is seeing demand for oil pick up in Asia and Europe by raising most crude oil prices to the regions.

While oil futures have weakened slightly this year, many energy traders and executives see them rising — perhaps to $100 a barrel — as the Chinese economy recovers from the lifting of lockdowns and inflation slows in other major economies.

State-controlled Saudi Aramco raised most official selling prices for Asia in April. The company’s leading Arab Light grade was raised to $2.50 a barrel above the regional benchmark, up 50 cents from the March level.

That was in line with a Bloomberg survey of refiners and traders, which predicted an increase of 55 cents. It is the second consecutive month for which Aramco has raised prices for Asia, its largest market.

Prices for US customers remained unchanged. Those for Northwest Europe and the Mediterranean rose by as much as $1.30 a barrel.

Brent oil fell 0.1% this year to $85.83 a barrel. It has fallen from around $115 since mid-2022, with a slowing global economy and higher interest rates counteracting supply disruptions caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Aramco’s chief executive officer suggested last week that he sees a turnaround.

“Demand from China is very strong,” Amin Nasser told Bloomberg in Riyadh on March 1. It is also “excellent” in Europe and the US, he said.

Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest oil exporter and together with Russia leads the OPEC+ group of producers. The 23-nation alliance has suggested it won’t increase production until next year.

Aramco sells about 60% of its raw shipments to Asia, mostly under long-term contracts, the prices of which are reviewed every month. China, Japan, South Korea and India are the largest buyers.

The company’s pricing decisions are often followed by other producers in the Gulf, such as Iraq and Kuwait.

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Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.