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Charles Kennedy

Charles Kennedy

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Saudi Crude Oil Exports Slump to 10-Month Low

Saudi Crude Oil Exports Slump to 10-Month Low

The world’s top crude exporter, Saudi Arabia, shipped the lowest volumes of oil in June for ten months as Saudi domestic consumption grew and Russia continued to take market share from the Kingdom in key Asian export destinations.

Saudi crude oil exports fell to 5.6 million barrels per day (bpd) in June, tanker tracking data compiled by Bloomberg showed on Friday.

This export volume is only 250,000 bpd more than the low Saudi exports at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, according to Bloomberg’s estimates. 

Earlier this week, tanker-tracking data compiled by Bloomberg showed that falling crude oil exports from Saudi Arabia accounted for half of the 1 million bpd drop in global seaborne shipments in June compared to May.

Saudi Arabia led the global decline in crude shipments, likely because of burning more oil domestically for power generation as it typically does every summer to meet soaring demand for air conditioning in the hottest months in the desert. 

Saudi seaborne crude oil shipments thus fell by 529,000 bpd to 5.606 million bpd in June, down from 6.135 million bpd in May, according to the data compiled by Bloomberg.

Apart from the seasonal low in Saudi exports due to higher demand at home, the Kingdom’s shipments faced stiff competition from OPEC+ ally Russia, which boosted its exports to the key Asian markets, China and India.

India’s crude imports from Russia rose to 1.97 million bpd last month, the highest since July 2023, per data from Vortexa cited by The Hindu Business Line.

China’s overall crude imports disappointed again in June, Vortexa’s senior market analyst Emma Li wrote in an analysis on Thursday.

However, the recent government mandate for stockpiling additional 58.5 million barrels of crude in majors-operated storage by March 2025 will likely support additional imports from Russia, Li said. 

“The new SPR mandate will likely support Russian crude imports into China, as oil majors are cautious about touching other US-sanctioned discounted crude grades, while oil benchmark prices breaching $85/b will challenge the stockpile economics,” the analyst wrote.

It appears that the Saudis are so far willing to let Russia have a larger market share in India and China as a price the Kingdom has to pay for the OPEC+ alliance to support oil prices, Bloomberg’s Julian Lee notes.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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