U.S. Exports Pull Back Slightly
U.S. exports pulled back considerably for week-ending 2/23, down 405 kbd w/w to finish at 1,341 kbd. For the second week in a row, flows to China tended to dominate, totaling 357 kbd and buoying the U.S. to China weekly export average that had been feeble through the first two weeks of February. Exports to the United Kingdom were also quite elevated, finishing at 297 kbd, the highest weekly total since late-December 2017. A small 86 kbd shipment was also sent towards Spain, the first such flow since mid-January. In total, exports to Europe finished down 195 kbd representing the lowest weekly volume in more than a month, likely due in part to a slow ramp up in seasonal refinery maintenance.
Examining Patterns in Asian Imports from OPEC Member-Nations
Total Asian imports from OPEC producing countries finished the month of February at 17,115 kbd, down a sizable 1,134 kbd m/m. The large m/m decline perpetuates a pattern of “bouncing” monthly import levels that fluctuate higher and lower with reasonable regularity. These monthly “jumps,” either positive or negative, have tended to total anywhere between 1,000 and 2,000 kbd since August of last year.
Venezuelan Exports Lower in February
Venezuela was unable to carry forward the upward momentum in January export loadings volumes, instead finishing February at 1,277 kbd, down 162 kbd m/m and 671 kbd y/y. Loadings shipped to the United States held nearly constant at 368 kbd while loadings to China fell 181 kbd m/m to finish February at 113 kbd.
Still No Change in Loadings at Mellitah
On February 23rd, the El Feel Oil Field, located in western Libya was officially closed due to payment disputes with local guards tasked with protecting site workers and infrastructure. The Mellitah Terminal, which exports a mix of oil/condensate from the Wafa and El Feel Oil Fields has yet to see any disruption in loadings. The Minerva Emma was the last vessel to dock with the port where she loaded approximately 567,000 barrels of crude (February 27th). AIS signaling has her arriving in the United States on March 19th.