Asian Importers Increase Gulf Crude Addiction

The success of Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq in pushing bumper volumes of competitively-priced crude on their key Asian customers is evidenced in the latest import statistics. These show that for three of their key customers – India, Japan and South Korea – diversification away from Gulf crude in recent years has gone into reverse since the start of 2016.

For Japan and South Korea, imports from the Gulf rose above 85% of their total in the second quarter this year; for India the total hit 65% in Q2 having fallen below 60% in 2014 (see chart, and p16 for full Indian import data).

IEA chief Fatih Birol warned in July that the world was becoming too reliant on oil from the Middle East, and by extension OPEC. The Middle East’s share of global oil output is running at 35%, a level not seen since the 1970s, he points out. And, with IOCs having slashed capex last year and this, this share is set to increase further.


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