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Saudi Arabia Lifts West Coast Oil Export Capacity By 3 Million Bpd

Yanbu terminal

Saudi Arabia has added 3 million bpd of oil export capacity to its West Coast on the Red Sea after the upgrade of Saudi Aramco’s Yanbu South Terminal, the state oil giant said on Wednesday.

The Yanbu terminal in the port city on the Red Sea coast of western Saudi Arabia is now integrated with the existing crude oil supply network and adds 3 million barrels per day to Saudi Aramco’s export capacity through the West Coast, the company said.

The increased export capacity from the Saudi West Coast comes as the Kingdom looks for routes other than the ones from its East Coast and via the Strait of Hormuz, the world’s most important oil chokepoint, which Iran threatened earlier this year to close should the U.S. drive Iranian oil exports to zero.

The Strait of Hormuz is the world’s most important chokepoint, with an oil flow of 18.5 million bpd in 2016, the EIA estimates. The Strait connects the Persian Gulf with the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea and is the key route through which Persian Gulf exporters—Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, the UAE, and Bahrain—ship their oil.

Most of Saudi Arabia’s seaborne oil exports pass through the Strait of Hormuz, but an East-West pipeline in the Kingdom carries crude oil from the eastern oil fields to Yanbu, which lies north of another oil chokepoint around the Arabian Peninsula—Bab el Mandeb. The Bab el-Mandeb Strait is one of the three crucial chokepoints around the Arabian Peninsula. Located between Yemen, Djibouti, and Eritrea, Bab el-Mandeb connects the Red Sea with the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea.

Aramco also plans to launch the overhauled Muajjiz oil terminal on the Red Sea this year, which would increase the total Saudi loading and export capacity to 15 million bpd.

While Saudi Arabia is raising its oil export capacities, it has recently started to vow that it will boost its oil production as well. Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said earlier this week that the Saudis are currently pumping 10.7 million bpd—very close to the all-time high of 10.72 million bpd—and would further increase that production in November.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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