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Middle East Crude-Benchmarks fall; EFS hits at least 16-year-low

SINGAPORE, March 12 (Reuters) - Middle East crude benchmarks Oman and Dubai dropped further on Thursday in contango market structures. Glencore bid for a cargo of Murban crude at a discount of $2.10 to its official selling price (OSP) via RIM Trading Board but did not attract any sellers. The Brent-Dubai crude's Exchange of Futures for Swaps (EFS) <DUB-EFS-1M>, a spread for oil traders to gauge the relative price strength of Brent-linked and Dubai-linked crude, slumped further to negative $1.35, the lowest since at least 2004 when Refinitiv Eikon data became available, the data showed. EFS flipped to negative a day earlier for the first time since May 2010, the data showed. Iran has set the official selling price (OSP) of Iranian Light grade for its Asian buyers at $3.10 a barrel below the Oman/Dubai average for April, down $5.65 from the previous month, an industry source said on Thursday. State-owned oil behemoth Saudi Aramco 2222.SE has rejected at least three Asian refiners' requests for additional bargain-priced crude for April, despite a recent pledge by the kingdom to boost supplies to a new record, four sources told Reuters. The refiners - one Korean, one Taiwanese and one Chinese - had requested extra barrels of Saudi oil in a so-called nomination process for April - on top of their long-term supply deals - following the steep price cuts announced by Aramco at the weekend, but were turned down by the producer. However, Saudi Arabia did approve incremental supplies for its top Indian and Chinese customers, including Bharat Petroleum Corp (BPLC), Reliance Industries Ltd, at least one Chinese state refiner, and privately held Zhejiang Rongsheng Holding Group, to fend off market share threats in the top Asian oil markets India and China, other sources told Reuters. WINDOW Cash Dubai's discount to swaps widened 38 cents to $2.75 a barrel. No Dubai partials were traded in the market-on-close assessment process. PRICES ($/BBL) CURRENT PREV SESSION DME OMAN 33.73 35.39 DME OMAN DIFF TO DUBAI -1.68 -1.53 CASH DUBAI 32.66 34.55 NEWS An OPEC and non-OPEC technical meeting planned for March 18 in Vienna is unlikely to go ahead, three sources with knowledge of the matter said. U.S. oil production is expected to grow more slowly in 2020 and drop outright in 2021, forecasters said this week after U.S. shale producers cut investment plans further when OPEC and Russia failed to agree steeper output cuts and prices plunged. This week's oil price rout had become inevitable and cutting output has ceased to make sense because it is unclear how deep the impact of the coronavirus on demand will be, Russia's deputy energy minister said in an interview with Reuters on Wednesday. The cost to ship oil on super-tankers soared on Thursday as major producers scrambled to secure vessels to ship more crude in a bid to regain lost market share and buyers took advantage of plunging prices. OPEC slashed on Wednesday its forecast for global growth in oil demand this year due to the coronavirus outbreak and said more revisions might follow, underlining the deepening impact of the virus on the market days after a pact on output cuts collapsed. For crude prices, oil product cracks and refining margins, please click on the RICs below. Brent Dubai DME Oman Brent/Dubai EFS <DUB-EFS-1M> PRODUCT CRACKS Fuel oil crack Gasoil crack Naphtha crack <NAF-SIN-CRK> Complex refining margins (Reporting By Shu Zhang; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)