THE SAUDI - RUSSIAN BATTLE
The Saudi-Russian battle for Europe's crude oil buyers intensified this week as Swedish refiner Preem bought its first cargo of Saudi Arabian crude oil in around two decades, trading sources said.
The purchase from another traditional buyer of Russia's Urals crude will heat up the contest for market share that Saudi Arabia has effectively brought to Russia's backyard in the Baltic region.
Already, Poland's two refineries, PKN Orlen and Lotos, have turned to Saudi crude at the expense of Urals.
The deputy head of Lotos earlier this week told Reuters that the purchase "made our negotiation position much stronger" with its traditional supplier, Russia.
State oil company Saudi Aramco on Thursday also dropped its official selling prices for crude oil to northwest Europe.
Preem, which also predominately runs Russia's Urals crude , confirmed the purchase but declined to elaborate on details.
Market sources said the company would run the crude through refinery units by the end of November to see if it could take Saudi crude more frequently in the future.