Med Crude-Urals awaits direction from Belarus row

LONDON, Jan 11 (Reuters) - Urals crude differentials strengthened for large cargoes in the Mediterranean, traders said on Wednesday adding they awaited news how Russia would reroute oil flows amid its row with Belarus.

"This Belarussian stuff is serious. Both sides are trying to play it down but it turns out it has continued since Jan 1. People are talking about 400,000 tonnes being redirected because of this," a trader with a Russian major said.

Russian oil firms suspended flows to two Belarussian refineries since Jan 1 amid pricing talks although flows across Belarus via the Druzhba pipeline to European customers in Germany and Poland were unaffected. [ID:nLDE70A0LA]

The row is similar to previous spats between the two ex-Soviet neighbours which have led to flows being cut along the Druzhba pipeline in previous years.

A second trading source also said he had heard Russia might increase exports by 400,000 tonnes in January and February.

But other sources with knowledge of plans by Russian pipeline monopoly Transneft denied those plans saying the volumes might be also redirected to domestic refineries if Russia failed to find a compromise with Belarus.

In the Platts window, Vitol offered a 80,000-tonne cargo at minus $1.70 to dated, which traders said was in line with the market.

One trader also said Vitol had finally managed to sell some of its 140,000-tonne cargoes outside the window in the past days at around minus $2.10-$2.20.

The deal has helped narrow the spread between the larger Suezmax and smaller Aframax tankers to a more regular 40 cents from an unusual spread of $1 per barrel last week.

In northwest Europe Vitol also offered a cargo in the window at minus $1.5 to dated but traders said the market could be as weak as minus $1.90.

In other grades, CPC has been heard done at minus 70 cents to dated and Azeri might have weakened too from very strong levels of around $2.80-$3.0 to dated, traders said.

Urals margins for complex refineries in the Mediterranean remained deeply negative on Monday compared to the annual average of plus $2.84 a barrel, Reuters models showed.

Brent crude futures LCOc1 jumped by over $1 by 1830 GMT, around $1 dollar off the landmark $100 a barrel level, suggesting differentials with Urals would continue to widen. (Reporting by Dmitry Zhdannikov and Alex Lawler; editing by William Hardy)


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