Exit From OPEC Boosts Qatari Oil Exports

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Qatar’s oil and condensate exports are at a three-year high, having climbed consistently in 2019 after its December decision to leave OPEC. Doha’s decision to quit the oil cartel at the start of 2019 has meant that its oil production is no longer constrained by the OPEC+ production cut deal, and subsequently its crude and condensate exports this year are averaging 50,000 bpd more than in 2018.

Washington sanctions on Iran’s oil industry have encouraged new trade flows for crude oil and condensate from the Persian Gulf, with Qatari flows bound for East Asia this month at their highest since 2016. East Asia accounts for the majority of Qatari barrels, and volumes have steadily increased since US sanctions waivers on Iranian oil imports expired.

South Korea is the leading destination for Rasgas condensate, and deliveries have averaged over 200,000 bpd in the last three months. And after a 10-month absence, China has discharged medium-sour al-Shaheen in for each of the last four months. Beijing has continued to import Iranian oil in defiance of US sanctions, albeit at lower volumes, and has been sourcing its sour barrels from elsewhere in response. Chinese imports of Qatari oil and condensates have nearly tripled this year compared to 2018’s pace.

In Taiwan, meanwhile, imports of Qatari al-Shaheen crude and Rasgas condensate jumped over 50,000 bpd in October, the highest since 2015. Taipei was last seen importing Iranian oil in September 2018, and was among the first countries to halt Iranian oil imports in order to comply with US sanctions.