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US Oil Trade Favors Russia Over Saudi Arabia

Copyright © 2021 Energy Intelligence Group

• Opportunistic buying of crude oil and mostly refined fuels has boosted US imports from Russia. • Saudi Arabia is selling less in the Atlantic Basin, to the US especially, and focuses more on more high-margin Asia. • US oil demand rose in the spring as gasoline and petrochemical feedstock lead a post-pandemic recovery. US fuel imports were the highest for the year in May, and much of the new imports came from Russia, where refinery outages and a pause in Asian and European buying forced traders to look for willing buyers. This abrupt change allowed US refiners and traders to pick up from Russia three various barrels: Discounted crude, unfinished oils for refinery feedstock, and finished products for blendstock, according to data from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). A total 844,000 barrels per day of Russian fuel found its way to US shores in May, making Moscow the second-largest oil supplier to the US after Canada. Back to the US Russia even delivered more crude oil to the US than Saudi Arabia -- 277,000 b/d versus 255,000 b/d -- a coincidental reversal of trade flows that has deliberately nudged the Saudis, the enforcers for output quotas in the Opec-plus alliance, toward Asia where they can claim the highest prices for their crude. Russia's flows to the US were also economy-driven. Opec-plus' largest producer delivered some 100,000 b/d of East Siberia-Pacific Ocean crude, 30,000 b/d each of Varandey and Sokol, and 20,000 b/d of Urals to the US in May. Among the cargoes was also 100,000 b/d of crude from the Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC) pipeline, which is mostly fed by three large fields in Kazakhstan but loads in the Russian port of Novorossiysk. Kazakhstan is also a member of the Opec-plus alliance and itself also delivered 66,000 b/d of crude and products to the US in May. EIA data show that Saudi Arabia landed an average 380,000 b/d of crude in the US in June and July while Russia delivered 270,000 b/d -- a reversal toward more traditional volumes. Still, Russia delivers more products than the kingdom. US Oil Trade With Opec-Plus May '21 US Imports US Exports US Net

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