Singapore: Middle east sour crude benchmark Oman lost ground despite the Brent/Dubai spread widening to its largest level in seven months, traders said yesterday.

The Brent/Dubai Exchange of Futures for Swaps (EFS) for June traded at $6 a barrel or even slightly higher yesterday afternoon, traders said.

The EFS has widened significantly over the past two weeks as futures prices have surged to ever higher records. A wide Brent/Dubai EFS makes Mideast crude more attractive, when compared with Russian sour Urals or sweet West African crude, which are priced off Brent.

But the EFS alone was not enough to support the market further, traders said.

"Brent/Dubai is wide, freight is cheap and margins are good. But China is selling," a Singapore-based trader said. Chinese traders Sinochem and Unipec have been offering Oman crude on the market, with Unipec reselling at least 500,000 barrels.

Unipec also offered 950,000 barrels of Angolan Girassol crude for May, on top of its offer for up to 8 million barrels of crude initially made on Wednesday.

Crude oil freight rates from the Gulf have been languishing at 9 to 10 month lows, despite oil prices hitting fresh records In tender news, Kenya has issued its regular monthly tender to buy Middle East crude for July arrival, a trader said.

State oil firm Qatar Petroleum (QP) has sold up to 3 million barrels of June-loading Rasgas sour condensate at stronger premiums of between $3.80 and $4.50 a barrel to Dubai quotes, traders said yesterday.