Winter Saudi-Europe Diesel Flows Seen Higher Despite Refinery Turnarounds
Diesel shipments to Europe from Saudi Arabia show little signs of easing over winter, even as turnarounds at some refineries temporarily halt exports and some cargoes need blending to meet specifications in Germany.
The 400,000-b/d Yasref refinery at the Red Sea port of Yanbu, one of about three Middle East facilities supplying Europe with diesel, is undergoing a turnaround, according to London-based consultants, Energy Aspects.
The joint venture Aramco and Sinopec facility has shipped between one and three ultra-low-sulfur diesel cargoes varying in size from 40,000 tons to 90,000 tons each month to countries in northwest Europe and the Mediterranean over the last year, according to the OPIS Tanker Tracker.
"Cold point has been an issue for ex-Yasref cargoes though they are supposed to address this during the current turnaround," Robert Campbell, head of Energy Aspects oil product research said in an emailed response to questions.
He said some Middle East diesel cargoes also did not meet German winter specifications, which complicated trading. But with blending, most cargoes were okay, he added.
The last Yasref ULSD cargo was tracked leaving Yanbu port on on Nov. 2, discharging at Algeciras for Cepsa.
But diesel shipments loading at another Saudi Arabian refinery at Jubail this month are already tracked higher than monthly volumes seen last winter.
Four cargoes, all from the Sasref refinery, are currently on the water, with a total of 420,000 tons heading for Europe to arrive in December, data compiled from brokers, traders and vessel-tracking satellite data show.
That's just below the monthly average of 520,000 tons seen for ULSD imports to the 28 member countries of the EU from Saudi Arabia over the first eight months of this year, according to Eurostat trade data. Trade data show Saudi-Europe ULSD imports at 330,000 tons in November and 390,000 tons in December, falling to 230,000 tons by January.
Middle East refinery turnarounds in November are estimated at 521,000 b/d, with 512,000 b/d offline in December. The region's overall fourth-quarter global crude runs are forecast at 7.2 million b/d, out of a global total of 79.6 million, according to Energy Aspects.