Saudi Arabia Keeps Arab Light Crude Price to Asia Unchanged in Surprise Move

(Reuters) — Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia unexpectedly kept March price of its flagship Arab Light crude to Asia unchanged at a more than two-year low, an Aramco statement showed on Tuesday, as the OPEC leader strives to maintain its market share.

Saudi Aramco set the official selling price (OSP) for March-loading Arab Light to Asia at $1.50 a barrel over the Oman/Dubai average, same level as the previous month.

The state oil giant made its biggest cut on the OSP in 13 months for February cargoes to a 27-month low amid competition from rival suppliers.

The March price was lower than the market expectations that forecasted Saudi to raise the OSP by about 55 cents following the improved market structure and supply disruption concerns amid escalating Middle East conflicts.

"(The stable price) is most likely came as Saudi Arabia is keen to secure its market share," a trading analyst with a North Asian refiner said.

"Saudi's crude allocations to China have dropped heavily in recent months."

Chinese refiners asked for low supplies for January- and February-loading Saudi crude due to high prices.

While also keeping March Arab Heavy crude price unchanged, Saudi Aramco marginally cut Arab Extra Light and Arab Medium prices to Asia, according to the statement.

For other regions, Saudi Aramco did not adjust its March OSPs to northwest Europe, but lowered Arab Light price to the United States by $0.30 a barrel.

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