Saudi Aramco has informed at least six refiners in Asia that it will supply full allocated volumes of crude oil in October despite attacks on its oil facilities over the weekend, although at least one refiner has been told of a partial change in the grade of crude it will receive.
Saudi Arabia has said it would be able to meet oil customers’ demand from its ample storage. But this is the first indication that its supply to top consumers in Asia – who consume more than 70 percent of total Saudi crude exports – will largely remain stable.
Three state-owned refineries in India – Indian Oil Corp (IOC), Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL) and Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd will receive full allocated volumes of Saudi crude oil in October, three industry sources told the Reuters news agency.
But Aramco has informed India’s top refiner, IOC, that it would give some volumes of Arabian Heavy instead of Arabian mix oil, said one of the sources, who declined to be identified as he was not authorised to speak to media.
This indicates that the kingdom is offering heavy crude instead of light crude as Arabian mix is a combination of Arabian Light and Heavy. No immediate comment was available from IOC.
The key Abqaiq processing plant was one of the facilities hit on the weekend. It processes crude oil from the Ghawar, Shaybah and Khurais fields that produce Arabian Light or Arabian Extra Light.
BPCL‘S head of refineries, Ramamoorthy Ramachandran, told Reuters that his company would get full volumes from Aramco for September and October without any change in the crude grade.
‘There will be no delay’
Two refiners, in China and Taiwan, also said Saudi Aramco had told them that there was no change to the loading schedule in September and October.
“Saudi has confirmed [to us] that our refinery will fully get its requested loading in September and October. We have not been asked to switch or delay,” one of the sources said.
But Saudi Aramco informed PetroChina that some of its loadings of light crude oil for October will be delayed by up to 10 days, according to a senior Chinese state oil company source with knowledge of the matter.
However, Aramco, the state oil company of Saudi Arabia, will still supply the same grades and volumes requested for October nominations, the source said.
The Chinese state refiner was also told that some of its September-loading light crude cargoes will be swapped to heavier grades with no delays or change in volumes, the source said.
State-owned Bangladesh Petroleum Corp (BPC) will meanwhile receive the full volume allocated for October, a senior BPC official said.
“Yesterday, we had a discussion about the next shipment and they assured us that there will be no delay,” the official said.
Some 100,000 tonnes of Arabian Light crude oil is scheduled to be loaded on September 28. BPC imports 700,000 tonnes of Arabian Light from Saudi Aramco annually for its sole refinery.
In the Asia market, refineries in Japan, South Korea, India and Thailand are main buyers of Saudi Arabia’s Arabian Light and Arabian Extra Light, according to one of the sources.
In South Korea, there has been no indication of disruptions to term supply, a Seoul-based source said.
Officials from Japan’s JXTG Holdings, Idemitsu Kosan Co Ltd and Cosmo Energy Holdings Co Ltd said they were collecting information but declined to comment further on Saudi Arabian oil or alternative supplies.
While refineries are able to source for alternative crude grades from the United States, West Africa and Southeast Asia should there by a disruption to supply, spot premiums for light crude are expected to rise, two trade sources said.
“Heavier condensate, the middle distillate-rich grades such as deodorised field condensate (DFC), can also be used as an alternative for light crude if light crude gets very expensive,” a trade source said.