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The Fight For The World’s Hottest Crude Market

Last week we have looked into the rise of US crude exports to Europe, an upsurge characterized by seasonal upswings, a rather non-uniform spread of demand on the back of an overwhelmingly market-based setup. Things are a little bit different when it comes to US crudes conquering Asia, a prime contributor to ever-growing crude demand, as politics steps into the spotlight. Wide trade surpluses, troubled relationships between regional powers, refineries configurated to run Iranian and Venezuelan crudes, states playing a more tangible role in seemingly business-based decisions, Asia has all of this and more. Yet despite the boundless potential for cooperation, the fate of the US-China trade war will regulate the influx of US crudes more than anything else.

There are Asian nations upon which US exporters could rely on. For instance, South Korea expressed its readiness on multiple occasions to bring in more American crude – which it did, already taking in by the end of August 20 million barrels more than it did throughout the entire year of 2018 (importing some 360kbpd in January-August 2019). South Korea also widened its US buying list by becoming one of the most active refiners of Alaskan North Slope. Japan increased its intake by 20 percent year-on-year, however still relies primarily on Middle Eastern crudes with its US imports averaging 75kbpd YTD 2019.

Vietnam had its first-ever US cargo in March 2019 when BP supplied the Dung Quat Refinery with 1MMbbls…




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