- OPEC March exports dropped by 361 kbd m/m led by Libya, Iraq, Angola and Algeria declines.
- Flows tended to shift away from Asia in March. Much of the marginal change came from a flip in flows from East to West of the Suez for crude originating in Angola, Iran and Iraq.
- Libya battled disruptions across much of the nation-states western production and exportation areas in March.
- Exports leaving Iraq through the Persian Gulf dropped in March largely due to maintenance operations at the SPM 1 berth that has prevented ship loadings at the terminal since February 27th.
- Saudi loadings hit a three-month high in March, but the Q1 loading average remained nearly in line with Oil Ministry expectations.
- Venezuelan oil export volumes remain at levels not seen in more than 15 years.
- Nigerian flows decreased by 96 kbd m/m, the first such decline in 6 months.
Algerian crude exports finished March at 367 kbd, lower by 123 kbd m/m and a sizable 206 kbd y/y. March is set to be the lowest monthly seaborne export total in more than 2-years. Shipments to Fos-sur-Mer which averaged 65 kbd over the last 6 months pulled back by a moderate 23 kbd in March, pushed-out by Urals from Sheskharis, and growing CPC supplies. Seasonal maintenance induced lower crude imports into the port.
Angola managed to ship 1,549 kbd through the month of March, lower by 140 kbd m/m and 213 kbd y/y. Shipments to China, Angola’s most important market, ended the month at 711 kbd, down a whopping 393 kbd m/m. The m/m decline was somewhat supplanted by a large 135 kbd flow towards the United States, a solid 70 kbd increase over February. More generally, Angolan exports shifted from East to West of the Suez.
Ecuadorian seaborne crude exports managed a strong recovery in March, up 160 kbd m/m to finish at 453 kbd, returning to January levels. Shipments to the United States edged up slightly to 95 kbd in March while exports to Asia held steady at 25 kbd (all to China) for a second month in a row.
Iranian oil exports finished March slightly higher than February totals, ending the month at 2,692 kbd, higher 81 kbd m/m and 158 kbd y/y. China remained the largest recipient destination with 712 kbd in export shipments leaving Iran for the eastern Asian nation-state, lower by a modest 18 kbd m/m. For the first time since March 2016, no Iranian crude flowed towards Japan in March and volumes to India and South Korea also declined. Volumes towards Europe realized a near 220 kbd gain m/m.
Exports leaving Iraq through the Persian Gulf in March ended at 3,528 kbd, lower by a slight 105 kbd m/m and slightly above the SOMO declared 3,426 kbd level. The m/m drop is largely a result of maintenance operations at the SPM 1 berth that has prevented ship loadings at the terminal since February 27th. The berth is expected to reopen in April. Shipments towards Europe and the United States increased m/m (+92 kbd) as flows towards Asia pulled back considerably (-327 kbd).
Libya battled disruptions across much of the nation-states western production and exportation areas in March. As a result, crude exports finished the month at 967 kbd, down a sizable 173 kbd m/m, albeit from a February that managed a multi-year export high 1,140 kbd. March figures were pulled lower several reasons. The El Feel production field was offline (and remains so) due to disputes with armed guards in the area. There were also short-term disruptions in loadings out of Zawia Terminal mid-month due to labor disputes at the installation and a brief pipeline outage connecting the Sharara field to export markets. Shipments to Spain fell by 171 kbd finishing March at 80 kbd as refinery maintenance season ramped up within the southern European nation-state.
Nigerian flows decreased by 96 kbd m/m, the first such decline in 6 months. Akpo and Agbami grade exports, typically counted as condensate, totaled 302 kbd in March. Shipments to India halved m/m to finish at 261 kbd. Exports towards Europe and Indonesia tended to dominate the month.
Qatari exports remained nearly flat m/m in March to 862 kbd, higher by only 8 kbd m/m, among which 570 kbd represents crude oil. The trend is driven by higher exports to China including a second shipment of Shaheen crude to Myanmar terminal, Made Island (the first took place in January of this year).
Early in 2018, the Saudi Oil Minister Khalid Al-Falih indicated the nation-states pledge to hold exports to 7 million bpd through Q1 2018. March exports finished at 7,096 kbd, up slightly from a February export level of 7,106 kbd. In total, this brings Q1 monthly exports to an average level just slightly above the 7 million bpd benchmark. The Saudi Oil Ministry has further indicated that exports for April will be held to the same ceiling as in Q1 2018.
United Arab Emirates
The UAE realized a 57 kbd m/m pullback to finish the month of March at 2,614 kbd. Murban grade crude exports were largely the culprit, lower by 214 kbd m/m following a February that realized 1,047 kbd in total exports of the grade. The cut was expected given announcements by ADNOC in late-January that crude allocations would be cut 25% in order to reaffirm commitment to the OPEC/non-OPEC production agreement.
Venezuelan export loadings finished lower in March, down 68 kbd m/m to finish at 1,224 kbd. It is likely that the emptying of storage at the recently closed Cardon, El Palito and Puerto La Cruz refineries and elsewhere helped contribute to a slight spike in loadings late in the month. Sanctions also remain a concern. On Wednesday, Switzerland decided to implement fresh sanctions freezing financial assets and barring domestic travel for several Venezuelan governmental officials. U.S. messaging from the State Department regarding Venezuelan oil sanctions has receded somewhat in recent days following the exit of Rex Tillerson. Exports to the United States finished the month of March at 437 kbd.