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Iraq last month become the second-largest crude oil exporter to the United States, overtaking its southern neighbor, Saudi Arabia, and is on track to repeat this performance this month as well, customs data compiled by Bloomberg and figures from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) suggest.
Iraq, Bloomberg’s data showed, shipped 18.8 million barrels to the U.S. in September, while Saudi exports to this destination came in 2.9 million bpd lower. Since the start of October, Saudi oil exports to the U.S. have been 3.2 million barrels below shipments from Iraq. Last week, the EIA said, Iraqi exports came in at 1.072 million barrels per day, versus 569,900 barrels per day from Saudi Arabia. The week before, Iraq exported just 423,000 bpd to the U.S.
Saudi Arabia has been the second-largest supplier of crude oil to the United States for more than two decades, with Canada holding the top spot. Now, with the Kingdom cutting more oil production than the OPEC deal calls for, its market share in the U.S. and elsewhere is being lapped up by partners and rivals, including not just Iraq but also Iran and Russia.
And it’s not just the US where Saudi Arabia’s presence in the oil market is diminishing. Earlier this week, Chinese customs data revealed that Russia remained the top oil exporter to China, about a year after it dethroned Saudi Arabia from that position. The data showed that in September, imports of Russian crude jumped by 61 percent annually to 6.35 million tons, or 46.55 million barrels. Angola was second, and Saudi Arabia came in third, with exports of 4.28 million tons, or 31.37 million barrels.
In August, Saudi Arabia announced it would cap its daily exports to 6.6 million barrels in a bid to accelerate the rebalancing of global inventories and has more or less stuck to this cap since then, ceding market share to other large producers, despite higher client demand as per statements from Saudi officials.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.