Asia, Europe Feel Benefit of Strong Libyan Crude Flows

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Libya’s crude exports have remained strong over the past three months even though fighting between rival authorities makes for a fragile security situation in the OPEC producer.

Total Libyan oil exports hit a three-month high in October, topping 1 million barrels per day as Asian buyers took advantage of relatively cheaper Brent-based pricing. The attacks on Saudi processing facilities in mid-September drove Brent-Dubai/Oman close to parity, erasing the typical premium we see for higher-quality Atlantic Basin barrels.

Loadings bound for East Asia last month reached a record high at 330,000 bpd, with most barrels heading to Libya’s largest recipient in the region – China. Meanwhile, we saw the first shipment of Amna crude grade to Japan in over two years, while South Korea in July received the first delivery of Sarir grade in our records.

Libyan oil also appears to be finding new customers in eastern Europe. The southern Mediterranean market, however, remains the top destination, with Italy and Spain being the two top customers, respectively.

Italy imported nearly 400,000 bpd of Libyan oil in October, the highest we have seen since 2013. Most of that came in the form of El Sharara and Es Sider grades. The majority of these imports were delivered to the Transalpine pipeline terminal, which carries crude to Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic.

Southern European imports of Libyan oil averaged over half a million barrels per day over the first 10 months of 2019, slightly higher than the same period last year. These imports were led by four main grades: Libya’s flagship Es Sider grade, El Sharara, Amna and Zueitina, respectively.