The shift in seaborne crude oil volumes was rather obvious during 2022, with the surge of exports from Saudi Arabia quite notable. 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 full 12 months of 2022, global crude oil loadings went up +8.5% yo-y to 2,047.3 mln tonnes, excluding all cabotage trade, according to vessels tracking data from Refinitiv. This was well above the 1,886.3 mln tonnes in Jan-Dec 2021, but slightly below the 2,110.5 mln tonnes in the same period of 2019”.
According to the shipbroker “exports from the Arabian Gulf were up +12.7% y-o-y to 879.3 mln t in 2022, and accounted for 42.9% of global seaborne crude oil trade. Exports from Russia have also increased by +10.3% y-o-y to 218.5 mln tonnes, or 10.7% of global trade. From the USA, exports surged by +22.3% y-o-y to 164.3 mln t. From West Africa, however, exports declined -2.4% y-o-y to 170.4 mln t. From the North Sea, exports were also down by -1.9% y-o-y to 107.4 mln tonnes in Jan-Nov 2022. In terms of demand, seaborne imports into the European Union (27) increased by +12.3% y-o-y to 452.0 mln t in Jan-Dec 2022, with the EU accounting for 22.3% of global seaborne crude oil imports. Imports to India also surged +11.7% y-o-y to 224.2 mln t in 2022. Imports to China, however, declined by -3.6% y-o-y to 436.7 mln t, the lowest level since 2018”.
“Saudi Arabia is the single largest seaborne exporter of crude oil in the world, ahead of Russia, Iraq and the USA. In 2022 it accounted for 17.7% 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 362.8 mln tonnes, excluding cabotage, the highest annual volume since 2013. This strong rebound follows a -7.7% y-o-y decline in volumes in 2021, which in turn followed a -2.9% y-o-y decline in 2020. About 90 percent of volumes loaded in Saudi Arabia in 2022 were carried in VLCCs, about 7 percent were carried in Suezmaxes, and about 3 percent in Aframaxes. The main crude oil export terminals in Saudi Arabia are: Ras Tanura (324.0 mln tonnes in 2022), Yanbu (30.2 mln t), Ras al Khafji (7.8 mln t)”, Banchero Costa said.
It added that “in terms of crude grades, at least 32% of exports from Saudi in 2022 was Arab Light, at least 19% was Arab Extra Light, at least 14% Arab Heavy, at least 12% Arab Medium, and 22% was Other/Unknown. In terms of destinations for crude oil shipments from Saudi Arabia, the focus in recent years has clearly shifted to Asia. In 2022, the top destination was Mainland China, accounting for 21.7% of the total Saudi crude exports, followed by Japan with 16.2%, South Korea with 13.1%, ASEAN with 11.8%, India with 11%, and Taiwan with 4%.
Direct shipments to the USA now account for just 5.6% of Saudi exports, and direct shipments to the European Union for just 2.8%. Another 7.9% 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 full 12 months of 2022, Saudi Arabia shipped 78.7 mln tonnes of crude to Mainland China, which represents a -1.9% y-o-y decline from 80.3 mln tonnes in Jan-Dec 2021. Saudi Arabia also shipped 58.9 mln tonnes last year to Japan, which is an increase of +14.2% y-o-y from 51.6 mln tonnes in 2021. The third top destination was South Korea, with 47.6 mln t, up +17.0% yo-y from 40.7 mln t in 2021. Shipments from Saudi to ASEAN surged by +35.0% y-o-y to in 2022 to 43.0 t, from 31.8 mln t in 2021. Volumes to India increased by +19.2% y-o-y in 2022 to 39.9 mln t. Direct shipments to the EU surged by +126.0% y-o-y to 10.3 mln t from 4.6 mln tin 2021. Shipments to Ain Sukhna in Egypt were up +40.3% y-o-y to 28.6 mln t”, the shipbroker concluded.
Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide