By Serene Cheong
BLOOMBERG - February 1, 2017
Crude purchases in one corner of the oil market by a Chinese trader are contributing to the shake-up of supply flows across the globe. China National United Oil Co. last month bought at least 7 million barrels of Middle East crude for March loading as part of an assessment process operated by Platts used to set price benchmarks, data compiled by Bloomberg show. The spree was made at a time the region’s supply is shrinking as producers including Saudi Arabia shoulder a majority of global output curbs. The purchases by the trader known as Chinaoil have helped raise the value of Middle East crude, which had already turned costlier relative to supplies from other regions on OPEC’s deal to cut production. The increase in the Dubai crude benchmark versus West Texas Intermediate and Europe’s Brent has spurred previously unviable flows of cargoes into Asia from areas such as the Gulf of Mexico and boosted shipments from West Africa and the North Sea.