UPDATE 1-India's MRPL seeks March sour crude; sees delays to SPM

Last Updated: Tue, Jan 22, 2013 11:50 hrs

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SINGAPORE, Jan 22 (Reuters) - Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd, a major buyer of Iranian oil, has floated a tender after a gap of nearly five months seeking sour crude for lifting in March.

The refiner last issued a tender for high sulphur oil in August, when it bought October- and November-loading sour grades to replace Iran supplies that were hit by Western sanctions.

An MRPL source said the tender is not an indication of any supply glitches. "We want to test the market for high sulphur oil," the source said.

The tender document showed MRPL is seeking supply in a 650,000 barrels parcel, indicating delays to the commissioning of its single point mooring (SPM), a facility that allow it to handle larger vessel and save on freight cost.

The SPM is important for MRPL as it has been struggling to import all of its 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) in crude under annual contract with Iran, which not have enough small vessels to serve the Mangalore port.

"We don't know when the SPM will be fully commissioned," the source said, who did not wish to be identified.

Sources last week said that MRPL had delayed the start-up of its SPM to end-January or later due to technical and insurance problems. [ID: nL4N0AJ6QJ]

MRPL launched a trial run of its new facility earlier this month, but abandoned it after a leak was found, sources said.

MRPL's tender for sour crude loading in the second half of March will close on Jan. 28 and will be valid until Jan. 30, the document showed.

MRPL has received a suezmax, the Cape Bastia, from Trafigura containing a million barrels of Equatorial Guinea's Zafiro crude hoping the SPM will be commissioned by end-December. It is not yet clear how the company will unload the vessel.

Mangalore Port Trust's website shows operational constraints for the Cape Bastia, which arrived on Jan 13 and is still waiting at anchor. (Reporting by Nidhi Verma; editing by Jason Neely)

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