Middle East Crude-Prices drop; Dubai sets June crude above Oman futures

- The differential will be applied to the average of daily settlements for the front month June Oman contract at the end of April to set Dubai's official selling price (OSP) for June-loading crude.

- Saudi Arabia was China's biggest crude oil supplier in February, data from the general administration of Chinese customs showed on Monday, reclaiming the crown from Russia after ranking No. 2 in January.

- After having been China's second-biggest crude supplier for three straight years on an annual basis, the kingdom is ramping up sales to China via supply deals with refiners outside the national oil companies in a new marketing strategy.

- Supplies from Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil exporter, reached 5.95 million tonnes, or about 1.552 million barrels per day (bpd), the data showed. That was up 29 percent from February 2018, according to Reuters calculations based on customs data. That compared to supplies from Russia last month of 5.74 million tonnes, or nearly 1.5 million bpd.

- China's Hengli Petrochemical Co Ltd 600346.SS said its unit's new oil refinery in Dalian has successfully produced gasoline, diesel, aviation kerosene and paraxylene (PX), according to a filing to the Shanghai Stock Exchange on Sunday. Paraxylene is a chemical used in making polyester fibre and plastics.

- The company said production at the new oil refinery was stable. The Dalian refinery has an annual capacity of 20 million tonnes.

- U.S. energy firms last week reduced the number of operating oil rigs for a fifth week in a row to its lowest in nearly a year as independent producers follow through on plans to cut spending on new drilling, with the government cutting its growth forecasts for shale output.

- Drillers cut nine oil rigs in the week to March 22, bringing the total count down to 824, the lowest since April 2018, General Electric Co's Baker Hughes energy services firm said in its closely followed report on Friday. That is the first time the rig count has declined for five weeks in a row since May 2016 when it fell for eight consecutive weeks.

- Cash Dubai's premium to swaps was at 56 cents a barrel after 13 May partials were traded on Monday. The sellers in the window were Shell, Unipec and Reliance, while buyers were PDSG, BP and Vitol, a trade source said.

* Budget needs are forcing Saudi Arabia to push for oil prices of at least $70 per barrel this year, industry sources say, even though U.S. shale oil producers could benefit and Riyadh's share of global crude markets might be further eroded.

* Oman's oil minister said on Sunday he was excited to be part of a Sri Lanka oil refinery project in a sign that plans for the sultanate's involvement may be back on track. Sri Lanka said last week that Oman Oil Co had made clear it was interested in taking a 30 percent stake in the new refinery on Sri Lanka's south coast.

* The United States reserves the right to take action against any person helping Iran evade U.S. sanctions on energy shipments, a State Department official said on Friday.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, was responding to a request for comment on a Reuters report this week that at least two tankers have sent Iranian fuel oil to Asia in recent months despite U.S. sanctions against such shipments.

(Reporting Koustav Samanta; Editing by Susan Fenton) (([email protected])(+65 6870 3503)(Reuters Messaging: [email protected]))