Saudi Arabia’s crude oil exports have maintained their upward momentum in 2023, albeit at a significant slower pace, as production has been reduced as part of OPEC’s oil price strategy. In its latest weekly report, shipbroker Banchero Costa said that “2023 so far has been another positive period for crude oil trade, despite the high oil prices and risks of economic recession. In Jan-Jun 2023, global crude oil loadings went up +8.9% y-o-y to 1080.8 mln tonnes, excluding all cabotage trade, according to vessels tracking data from Refinitiv. This was well above the 992.4 mln tonnes in Jan-Jun 2022 and the 923.5 mln tonnes of Jan-Jun 2021, but also slightly above the 1051.3 mln tonnes in the same period of 2019. Exports from the Arabian Gulf were up +3.3% y-o-y to 435.7 mln t in Jan-Jun 2023, and accounted for 40.3% of global seaborne crude oil trade. Exports from Russia have also increased by +7.6% y-o-y to 119.7 mln tonnes, or 11.1% of global trade. From West Africa, exports declined by -0.4% y-o-y to 86.6 mln t. From South America, exports surged by +18.7% y-o-y to 72.1 mln tonnes in Jan-Jun 2023”.
According to the shipbroker, “in terms of demand, seaborne imports into the European Union (27) increased by +6.0% y-o-y to 235.0 mln t in Jan-Jun 2023, with the EU accounting for 21.7% of global seaborne crude oil imports. Imports to China increased by +17.2% y-o-y to 251.4 mln t in Jan-Jun 2023, accounting for 23.2% of global trade. Volumes into India increased +3.6% yo-y to 118.0 mln t in Jan-Jun 2023. Shipments to ASEAN increased by +18.0% y-o-y to 117.9 mln t. To South Korea, volumes increased by +6.6% y-o-y to 70.4 mln t. Japanese imports declined by -6.4% yo-y to 61.0 mln t in Jan-Jun 2023”.
The shipbroker added that “Saudi Arabia is the single largest seaborne exporter of crude oil in the world, ahead of Russia, Iraq and the USA. In the first half of 2023 it accounted for 16.3% of global seaborne crude oil exports. In the 12 months of 2022, Saudi seaborne crude oil exports surged by +17.2% y-o-y to 362.6 mln tonnes, excluding cabotage, the highest annual volume since 2013. This strong rebound follows a -7.7% yo-y decline in in 2021, which in turn followed a -2.9% y-o-y decline in 2020. The trend was still positive in 1H 2023, with 176.6 mln t shipped in Jan-Jun 2023, up +4.3% y-o-y. About 92% of volumes loaded in Saudi Arabia in 1H 2023 were carried in VLCCs, 6% were carried in Suezmaxes, and 2% in Aframaxes. These proportions increased in favour of the largest tankers, as Suezmaxes and Aframaxes were diverted to carry more Russian cargoes”.
“The main crude oil export terminals in Saudi Arabia are: Ras Tanura (154.4 mln tonnes in 1H 2023), Yanbu (16.8 mln t), Ras al Khafji (5.3 mln t). In terms of destinations for crude oil shipments from Saudi Arabia, the focus in recent years has clearly shifted to Asia. In 1H 2023, the top destination was Mainland China, accounting for 23.2% of the total Saudi crude exports, followed by Japan with 15.5%, South Korea with 12.6%, ASEAN with 12.2%, India with 10.1%, and Taiwan with 4%. Direct shipments to the USA now account for just 4.1% of Saudi exports, and direct shipments to the European Union for just 2.0%. Another 11.2% of Saudi crude exports are shipped to the Ain Sukhna Terminal in Egypt to feed the Sumed pipeline, and will eventually mostly end up in Europe. In the first 6 months of 2023, Saudi Arabia shipped 40.9 mln tonnes of crude to Mainland China, which represents a +12.3% y-o-y increase from 36.4 mln tonnes in Jan-Jun 2022. Saudi Arabia also shipped 27.3 mln tonnes last year to Japan, which is a decrease of -4.0% y-o-y from 28.5 mln tonnes in 1H 2022. The third top destination was South Korea, with 22.2 mln t, flat +0.1% y-o-y from 22.2 mln t in 1H 2022. Shipments from Saudi to ASEAN surged by +10.8% y-o-y to in 1H 2023 to 21.5 t, from 19.4 mln t in 1H 2022. Volumes to India declined by -12.8% yo-y in 1H 2023 to 17.8 mln t. Direct shipments to the EU declined by -9.1% y-o-y to 3.5 mln t in 1H 2023. Shipments to Ain Sukhna in Egypt were up +92.6% y-o-y to 19.5 mln t in 1H 2023”, Banchero Costa concluded.
Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide