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U.S. Oil Could Begin Competing With Middle East Crudes In Asia

Royal Dutch Shell offered on the Asian market on Monday a West Texas Intermediate (WTI) Midland cargo priced off the Dubai benchmark typically used for the Middle Eastern grades going to Asia—a move that could bring U.S. oil in direct pricing competition with Middle Eastern producers on the world’s fastest-growing oil demand market.

U.S. oil cargoes to Asia are typically priced off the WTI benchmark, while pricing the WTI Midland cargo off the Dubai benchmark could help Asian buyers to compare the prices of U.S. cargoes to crudes of similar quality coming from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, or the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bloomberg reports.

Shell offered the 1-million-barrel WTI Midland crude for delivery at Singapore, Linggi, or Nipah between October 15 and 25 in the Platts Market-On-Close (MOC) price assessment process.

The WTI Midland cargo is priced at a premium of US$4.55 a barrel to the Dubai benchmark price, traders told Bloomberg.

“Considering that U.S. crude exports have steadily been ramping up, this move could be disruptive for the traditional suppliers in the Middle East,”

John Driscoll, chief strategist at JTD Energy Services in Singapore, told Bloomberg, commenting on the first-ever U.S. cargo priced off the Dubai benchmark and offered to Asian buyers.

U.S. crude exports to Asia have grown in recent years, as American oil has found dozens of destinations since the U.S. lifted a ban on crude oil exports at the end of 2015.

Last year, U.S. crude oil exports averaged 2.0 million bpd, up from 1.2 million bpd in 2017, EIA data shows.

While U.S. exports to China dropped last year because of the trade war that began in the latter half of 2018 and is still a reason for China to shun U.S. oil, U.S. crude sales to South Korea and Taiwan, for example, rose.

Last year, Asia was the top regional destination for U.S. crude oil exports, followed by Europe.

Canada was the largest single destination for U.S. crude oil exports, while South Korea beat China to become the second-biggest destination for U.S. crude exports in 2018, receiving 236,000 bpd, compared with China’s 228,000 bpd, the EIA has estimated.  

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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