Saudi seaborne exports are pointing to yet another month at or near the 7,000 kbd loading level, keeping to the export limit set out by the Oil Ministry in January of this year. Through the first three weeks of May, loadings have averaged near 7,200 kbd and preliminary May seaborne export loadings for Saudi are currently holding at 7,089 kbd. Of the monthly total, 2,235 kbd has already been delivered, with another 4,103 kbd in transit, and an additional 475 kbd being loaded at port. The biggest downside risk for Saudi export totals include scheduled loadings, currently equal to 276 kbd. Scheduled loadings are sometimes partially or fully rolled over if associated vessel(s) are unable to load and depart from a port before the end of the current month. The figures reported above are subject to small revisions through the end of the month as more data becomes available.
Through much of 2018, the focus has centered on Saudi compliance with their own self-mandated 7,000 kbd export level. The focus now shifts to the willingness of Saudi Arabia, alongside other OPEC partners and Russia, to begin boosting production and export levels given the stark loss of Venezuelan barrels over the past year and the coming re-implementation of U.S. economic sanctions on Iran. Indeed, over the past 12-months, Saudi Arabia has managed to hold the weekly export average remarkably close to 7,000 kbd. If a change in policy is decided upon at the OPEC meeting next month, it is likely that an increase in Saudi loadings will gradually move higher to allow global markets to slowly absorb the changes. For now, we remain in a wait-and-see attitude.