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ONGC offers Nov Sokol crude in first tender

Oil and Natural Gas Corp. (ONGC) has issued its first tender to sell Sokol crude oil from Russia's Sakhalin-1 oilfield for loading in November, tender documents showed on Friday.

The state-run oil company, which has a 20 percent stake in the Exxon Mobil Corp.-led Sakhalin-1 field, has offered 700,000 barrels for Nov. 20 loading from the De Kastri Terminal SOKOL SBM, on a cost-and-freight (C&F) basis.

The tender closes on Oct. 6 and will remain valid till Oct. 9, the document showed.

Last week, shipbrokers said that Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemical Ltd. (MRPL), the refining arm of ONGC, was seeking an 80,000-130,000 deadweight-tonne tanker to load an equity cargo of Sokol crude oil from Sakhalin-1 in November.

On Thursday, a Sakhalin-based source involved with the project said Exxon Mobil was set to start loading its first crude cargo at the Sakhalin-1 terminal on Russia's Pacific coast on Oct. 4, indicating that Russian authorities might have given the green light for the terminal to start operations. But he added that exports would be slow at the beginning.

The launch of exports would further ease investors' fears that recently raised environmental issues may disrupt energy supplies and signal broader Russian moves to gain more control over its multi-billion-dollar Sakhalin oil and gas projects.

Russian officials had said that commercial oil exports might not begin before Nov. 15 due to the need to make additional checks at the facilities, although trial cargoes might be possible.

Exxon has said exports were on schedule for the end of this month.

The first cargoes of light, sweet Sokol crude have already been sold to Japanese refiners, with traders watching to gauge how the new flows will shift trading patterns of competing grades such as Abu Dhabi's Murban.

Sakhalin-1 is due to pump 250,000 barrels per day (bpd) of Sokol crude by the end of this year.

Exxon Mobil has a 30 percent stake in Sakhalin-1, while a Japanese consortium of traders and energy firms called Sodeco owns another 30 percent. Russian state oil firm Rosneft holds 20 percent.

© Reuters

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