Oil Market: Weekly Report - Middle-East Oil Flows

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Crude oil exports from the Middle East dropped by 4.69 million bbl w-o-w to 127.92 million bbl. The drop in volumes came on the back of reduced exports from Iran, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, with Iran registering the steepest weekly fall amongst Middle-Eastern exporters. Condensate exports from the region were assessed at 5.49 million bbl, split between Iran and Qatar, up from 3.53 million bbl exported during the previous week.

Saudi exports dropped by 2.49 million bbl w-o-w to 50.72 million bbl, albeit still above the 50 million bbl mark. The drop in exports can be largely attributed to reduced lifting by South Korea which stood at 5.75 million bbl, down by 3.7 million bbl w-o-w. As China’s Sinopec will be boosting crude volumes from the US to record levels in June and South Korea is opting to replace Middle-East barrels with lighter US and African grades, the Kingdom appears to be pushing for more volumes to the West. US lifting rose for the second consecutive week, increasing by 3 million bbl w-o-w, to 9.2 million bbl, the highest weekly volume since April 2017. Weekly US imports of Saudi crude has averaged at 5.2 million bbl so far in 2018, just shy of 750,000 bpd. Chinese intake on the other hand remained steady at 6 million bbl last week.

Iraq’s export from Basrah increased to 23.24 million bbl, a weekly gain of 1.24 million bbl. The increase came on the back of increased Chinese lifting at 7.7 million bbl, surpassing departures to India which were assessed at 5.8 million bbl. It still remains to be seen if this is an attempt by Chinese refiners to substitute Saudi barrels, as announced earlier by Sinopec, due to higher Saudi’s OSPs. Congestion at Basrah anchorage remained largely steady with 5 large vessels waiting to load on an average during the week. No loading activities were observed at SPM no 1 which remains offline for almost 3 months now.

Iran exports were assessed at 14.69 million bbl, a steep w-o-w drop of 5.8 million bbl. The drop can be largely attributed to vessel scheduling as no weather related disruptions were reported last week and fixture data estimates about 16.8 million bbl to be exported from the country this week. NITC Suezmax – ‘SABITI’ loaded a parcel of South Pars crude and discharged at Sikka, India, similar to previous months. Kharg Island exports were assessed at a total of 13.81 million bbl last week with Iranian Heavy, Iranian Light and Foroozan accounting for 6.87, 4.63 and 2.32 million bbl respectively.

The Oil Research Team, MENA


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