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Strong demand from European refiners pulled Urals discounts to unusual highs against the benchmark last week.
Baltic-loading cargoes were changing hands at discounts of $2.20/bl to dated BFO or narrower--their strongest level in a year. In the Mediterranean, discounts narrowed to $1.80/bl against the benchmark--their strongest level in 18 months.
The dramatic narrowing of Urals' discounts reflected European refiners' desire to build distillate stocks ahead of winter by locking in crude supply. European refineries have been cranking up throughputs to guarantee winter distillate supplies since coming out of maintenance in April-May.
But this upsurge …