Despite the fact that crude oil sea loadings from Iraq are mainly headed towards China and India, the EU has also emerged as a leading destination during the first 11 months of 2022. In its latest weekly report, shipbroker Banchero Costa said that “2022 has turned out to be a very positive year for crude oil trade, despite the surging oil prices and risks of economic recession. In the first 11 months of 2022, global crude oil loadings were up +8.6% yo-y at 1,865.7 mln tonnes, excluding all cabotage trade, according to vessels tracking data from Refinitiv. This was well above the 1,718.3 mln tonnes in Jan-Nov 2021, but slightly below the 1,926.9 mln tonnes in the same period of 2019”.
According to the shipbroker, “exports from Saudi Arabia are up +17.7% y-o-y to 332.3 mln tonnes in Jan-Nov 2022, above pre-Covid levels. Seaborne shipments from other AG countries are also up by +10.4% y-oy to 471.0 mln tonnes in the same period, but still below pre-Covid levels. Exports from Russia have also increased by +11.2% y-o-y to 199.4 mln tonnes, slightly below the 206.6 mln t in the same period of 2019. From the USA, exports surged by +24.6% y-o-y to 149.8 mln t this year. From West Africa, however, volumes are down -3.3% y-o-y to 154.6 mln t. From the North Sea, exports are also down by -1.7% y-o-y to 98.4 mln tonnes in Jan-Nov 2022”.
“In terms of demand, seaborne imports into the European Union (27) increased by +12.5% y-o-y to 412.0 mln t in Jan-Nov 2022. Imports to India also surged +11.5% y-o-y to 203.7 mln t in the same period. Imports to China, however, declined by -5.2% y-o-y to 390.5 mln t, the lowest level since 2018. Iraq is the second largest seaborne exporter of crude oil in the Arabian Gulf after Saudi Arabia, the third in the world behind Saudi Arabia and Russia, and still just ahead of the USA. In Jan-Nov 2022, Iraqi ports accounted for 8.3% of global crude oil loadings. This only covers cargoes loading in Basrah (pretty much the only loading port in Iraq), and does not even include the exports which go by pipeline via Turkey, i.e. Kirkuk grade oil from Northern Iraq. About 71 percent of volumes loaded in Basrah are carried in VLCCs, and about 28 percent is loaded in Suezmaxes”, Banchero Costa said.
The shipbroker added that “in the 12 months of 2019, Iraqi seaborne crude oil exports were as high as 176.3 mln tonnes. In 2020, however, due to limited global demand due to the pandemic, Iraq managed to ship just 151.7 mln t of crude oil, down -13.9% y-o-y. Things didn’t really improve much in 2021, when seaborne crude oil exports from Iraq were further down by -1.3% y-o-y to 149.8 mln tonnes. This year, however, there has been a clear turnaround. In the first 11 months of 2022, Iraq exported 154.4 mln tonnes of crude oil, which was a +14.5% y-o-y improvement over the 134.9 mln tonnes in the same 11-month period of last year. This was also the best performance since 2019, when Iraq exported 161.7 mln tonnes in the first 11 months of the year”.
“In terms of destinations for the shipments from Iraq, it’s still a head to head between Mainland China and India, with Europe in third place. In the first 11 months of 2022, Iraq shipped 47.2 mln tonnes to India, which represents a +3.1% y-o-y increase from 45.8 mln tonnes in Jan-Nov 2021, and also more than the 45.8 mln t in Jan-Nov 2019. India now accounts for 30.6% of Iraqi crude oil shipments so far this year. Iraq also shipped 46.1 mln tonnes so far this year to Mainland China, which is an increase of +7.1% y-o-y from 43.1 mln tonnes in the same period of 2021, but below the record 49.4 mln tonnes in Jan-Nov 2020. China accounts for 29.9% of Iraqi crude shipments this year. The third top destination is the EU, with 21.4 mln tonnes, or 13.9% of Iraq’s total exports in Jan-Nov 2022. Shipments from Iraq to the EU surged by +67.8% y-o-y to in Jan-Nov 2022 from 12.7 mln tonnes in JanNov 2021, but are still below the 21.8 mln tonnes in Jan-Nov 2019”, Banchero Costa concluded.
Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide