TEHRAN: Iran's largest refinery in Abadan has started its scheduled maintenance this month and will be back online around mid-April, a source at the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) said.
The refinery, which has a crude processing capacity of about 360,000 barrels per day, was shut on March 10 and is expected to be back up around April 10.
In a month-long maintenance that will reduce fuel oil exports by "at least 50 percent", the source said, declining to be named as he was not authorized to speak with the media.
Iranian fuel oil exports are anticipated to be almost 200,000 tonnes a month during this period, the source added.
The National Iranian Oil Refining and Distribution Company and the Abadan Oil Refining Company, units of NIOC, were not immediately available for comment.
The tighter supply of Iranian fuel oil favoured for its low-density quality in recent months has raised premiums for bunker fuel from United Arab Emirates' Fujairah port, trade sources said.
Bunker fuel from the Middle Eastern port, which usually trades at discounts to Singapore's market, has frequently reversed trend since the second-half of last year.
Fujairah bunker fuel is currently more expensive than that in Singapore by about $2-$5 a tonne, trade sources said.
The trend was last reversed around the fourth quarter of last year, when Iran said it would slash exports to a third of previous levels, diverting production to domestic power plants over winter.
Iranian fuel oil exports can be used for blending with lower quality fuel to produce suitable specifications for marine vessel use.
Iran, while still under sanctions, has won some relief after it halted its most sensitive nuclear operations under a preliminary deal with world powers reached last November. (Reuters)