Exports of distillates, primarily diesel, from the Middle East to Europe have been averaging 700,000 b/d since June, the highest sustained level in at least six years. Europe’s distillate crunch shows little sign of abating, with Russian barrels banned from 5 February, and the Middle East’s fleet of modern refineries offers a convenient source of supply.

Despite huge market dislocations stemming from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the increase in Gulf-to-Europe distillate trade has so far been relatively modest – up from around 500-600,000 b/d for late 2021 according to data intelligence firm Kpler (see chart). But the trend is clearly upwards even ahead of the 5 February deadline. (CONTINUED - 1168 WORDS)