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Global Crude Oil Shipments Fall in June on Saudi Export Slump

Falling crude oil exports from Saudi Arabia accounted for half of the 1 million barrels per day (bpd) drop in global seaborne shipments in June compared to May, tanker-tracking data compiled by Bloomberg showed on Tuesday.

The estimated decline of about 1.08 million bpd in global crude oil shipments was the biggest monthly drop in seaborne crude supply so far this year, according to the data.  

Saudi Arabia, the world’s top crude oil exporter, led the decline, 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.  

Therefore, in most summer months in the northern hemisphere, the Kingdom withholds more of its crude for domestic use, although the timing varies.

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.

In June, some other major producers also saw their crude shipments decline compared to May. Iran and Iraq’s exports dropped, as did shipments from West Africa, the U.S. Gulf Coast, and the North Sea.  

The producers who boosted seaborne shipments included Brazil and Qatar. Additionally, Russia’s flagship grade Urals also saw shipments rise although exports of other Russian grades fell, the data collected by Bloomberg showed.

Saudi Arabia’s crude shipments rose in March to the highest level in 9 months, per data from the Joint Organizations Data Initiative (JODI).

The following month, Saudi crude exports fell by as much as 445,000 bpd from March to 6 million bpd in April, the latest JODI data showed.

At the same time, the Kingdom’s crude oil production rose by 13,000 bpd to 8.99 million bpd, according to the JODI data which compiles self-reported figures from the individual countries. Saudi direct crude burn increased by 93,000 bpd month-on-month and was up by 11% year over year in April, according to the data.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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  • Mamdouh Salameh on July 02 2024 said:
    While Saudi Arabia's oil exports tend to fall in the summer months to meet soaring demand for air conditioning, this can't fully explain the decline in Saudi oil exports particularly that the oil share in Saudi electricity generation has been declining from 40% in 2021 to 30% in 2022 with gas share rising from 60% in 2021 to 67% in 2022.

    Saudi crude exports fell by 529,000 barrels a day (b/d) in June to 5.606 million barrels a day (mbd) down from 6.135 mbd in May according to the data compiled by Bloomberg. Saudi oil exports fell also by 445,000 b/d in April to 6.0 mbd in April.

    It seems that the decline in Saudi exports isn't any more limited to summer months but is happening during the year. My explanation for this is that Saudi crude production is on a downward trend.

    The reason is that 90% of Saudi production has been for the last 75 years coming from five giant, aging and fast-depleting oil fields (Ghawar, Safaniya, Shayba, Zuluf and Khrais) which have been kept in production by injecting billions of gallons of water.

    My estimate of current Saudi production is 6.0-6.5 mbd with 2.5-3.0 mbd being withdrawn from the oil inventory to make up the declared 9.0 mnd of production.

    I project that by 2030 Saudi Arabia could only have 440,000 b/d for export and would have ceased virtually to remain an oil exporter.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Global Energy Expert

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