Refiners in Asia 'decline more Saudi crude'
Singapore, July 11, 2011
Saudi Arabia's offer of additional crude in August drew scant interest from refiners across northeast Asia who declined supplies beyond contracted volumes.
One buyer each in India and Southeast Asia accepted extra barrels of light oil, traders said.
Ten refiners in China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan turned down the Saudi offer, traders said on Monday, as oversupply of high-quality Russian ESPO crude prevails in the region and China's crude imports tumbled 11.5 percent in June from a year earlier to their lowest in eight months.
Limited demand for extra barrels from Asia, the world's fastest-growing market, would leave the Saudis with few options to find homes for additional cargoes. Top exporter Saudi Aramco was expected to have raised output to near 10 million barrels per day (bpd) in June.
"If buyers do not ask for more, I think Aramco will not provide more," said a trader with one of the northeast Asian refiners. "Maybe they will switch the grade only. Arab Heavy is still tight for summer."
Sources with European oil companies said they would receive the same contracted volumes from Saudi Arabia in August as they did in July. At least one source said Aramco did not actively ask if there would be any additional requirement.
"Volume-wise, August is same as July. Everything is according to what we want," one source with an oil company that had received its allocation, said. "They used to say, 'if there is any additional requirement, let us know and we can discuss.' But not recently."
The composition of the kingdom's exports to Asia is getting lighter. At least three refiners of those receiving steady overall amounts will get more of the lighter crude and less of the heavy grades next month, traders said.
Saudi Arabia is aiming to increase exports of light crude to compensate for the disruption to high-quality Libyan oil exports, crimped by the country's civil war for the past four months. The kingdom had so far aimed those additional volumes of Arab Extra Light at refiners in the Mediterranean.
Saudi Oil Minister Ali Al-Naimi last month pledged to meet an expected increase in demand in the third quarter after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) failed to agree to a collective production increase.
The kingdom's output in June was expected to be more than 1 million bpd above the May average. Some of the incremental output, typically Arab Light and potentially Arab Heavy, may be staying in the kingdom to fuel power generation to meet peak summer use. - Reuters