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North Sea Crude Market Surges
The North Sea crude market is at its strongest for more than three years, as forward rates on cargoes of North Sea crude oil loading in the next week have hit the highest level since late 2014 and are at a premium of nearly $1 per barrel to those loading in six weeks, Reuters reports. That market structure is known as backwardation, something OPEC has been striving to achieve this year through the output cuts and an indication of tight markets. This was facilitated by strong refinery demand in Europe and the US which has helped eliminate the overhang of oil that was stored offshore while the market was in contango. So far in 2017, around 454M barrels (1.72M b/d) of North Sea crude have been loaded on to ships, up 4.2% y-o-y, while China has replaced South Korea as the largest non-European consumer of North Sea oil, having doubled its intake to about 52M barrels this year.