Singapore jet-kerosene prices rose yesterday as strong north Asian demand for heating oil sapped tightening supplies.

"Heating oil demand is very bullish. It gets colder in northAsia as each day passes," said a trader.
Japan and South Korea both had low kerosene inventories, with South Korea forced to slow kerosene exports to meetdomestic demand.

A Japanese buyer was heard to have picked up a December kerosene cargo at a premium of $6 per barrel over Singapore quotes, on a cost-and-freight Hokkaido basis, traders said. There were no deals done on the jet-kerosene spot market.

Two bidders faced a lone seller, with the best bid at minus 30cents to spot quotes, similar to Thursday's levels.

Gas oil prices were steady. Traders said Australia was looking to buy gas oil barrels from the Singapore market, although firm details were unavailable.

Additional gas oil demand from Sri Lanka was likely tosupport the market, traders said.

The country's only refinery will shut for scheduledmaintenance from mid-January to end-February, during which Sri Lanka would import their entire requirement of middle distillates, which could total as much as 200,000 tonnes, a trader said.

"Sri Lanka's upcoming purchases could draw barrels from the market," said a trader.

He said the arbitrage opening to the West has already taken some pressure out of supply. The spot gas oil market recorded four deals, with Hin Leong buying three cargoes at $29.20 per barrel for December 13-17lifting and one at 29.00 for December 7-11 lifting.