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Just a day after Abu Dhabi was said to have removed the restrictions on Qatar operated, owned, or flagged tankers to call at UAE ports, the port authority backtracked and re-imposed the ban on all oil tankers with any connection to Qatar from stopping at UAE, creating the latest confusion surrounding crude oil loadings and co-loadings in the Middle East.
The latest circulars issued by Abu Dhabi Petroleum Ports Authority and state-held Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) say that there is “denial of entry into any of the Petroleum Ports, for all vessels arriving from, or destined to Qatar, regardless of its flag,” Reuters reports on Thursday, citing the notices it has seen.
After, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE, Egypt, Yemen, and Libya severed diplomatic ties with Qatar, accusing it of sponsoring terrorism and destabilizing the region, port authorities in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain barred Qatar-flag or owned vessels, as well as Qatar-bound or Qatar-origin tankers, from calling at their ports, thus making crude and oil product loadings in the Persian Gulf more complicated, and forcing large oil importers to change loading plans.
The reinstatement of UAE’s total ban for any Qatar-bound or Qatar-originated tanker is likely to create further confusion among refiners and shipbrokers that have been wondering if they could continue their common practice of co-loading several grades of crude from several Middle Eastern producers, including Qatar, since the spat in the Middle East began. The impossibility to co-load Qatari grades from Qatari ports together with UAE grades from UAE ports could increase transportation costs and tanker fees, and potentially create logistical jams.
Related: What Is Behind The Diplomatic Crisis In The Persian Gulf?
According to a source from an Asian refiner who spoke to Reuters:
“ADNOC has officially confirmed that we cannot co-load to and from [Qatar]. So we need to find new vessels, then find co-loadings around the region.”
According to Reuters’ industry sources in Asia and the Middle East, co-loadings could continue on a case-by-case basis, despite the port ban.
But despite the UAE ban on port callings from and to Qatar, the emirates have not shut a gas pipeline from Qatar, which meets around 30 percent of UAE’s energy needs. The UAE pays for that gas from Qatar well below the current market prices, according to industry analysts who spoke to CNN.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.