Stock - Oil
Saudi sells oil under long-term contracts to Asia, pricing for which is reviewed each month. China, Japan, South Korea and India are the biggest buyers. Image Credit: Bloomberg

Riyadh: Saudi Arabia lowered most oil prices for Asia, in a sign of the regional market weakening with the global economic slowdown.

Rising interest rates and strict virus-related lockdowns in China have hit energy consumption, causing a 20 per cent drop in crude futures since June.

State-controlled Saudi Aramco cut its key Arab Light grade for December sales to Asia, its main market, by 40 cents to $5.45 a barrel above the regional benchmark. That was in line with refiners and traders’ prediction of a 35-cent drop, according to a Bloomberg survey.

Yet Brent’s still trading above $95 a barrel because of the prospect of a fall in Russian exports from once the European Union tightens sanctions on December 5.

Aramco’s official selling prices remain historically high amid the tightness of the physical market, in which actual barrels are bought and sold.

“It’s a tale of two markets,” Joe McMonigle, head of the International Energy Forum, told Bloomberg TV this week, adding that Russian supply could fall by between 1 million and 3 million barrels a day. “The physical markets are very tight. The paper markets are pricing in bad economic news and a bad recession.”

For Asia, Aramco reduced its medium and heavy oil grades to the lowest level in at least nine months. The company mostly raised prices for European buyers, who may struggle to find alternative supplies once the near-embargo on imports from Russia is in place.

The kingdom left pricing for the US unchanged.