MYSTERY: Saudi Oil Exports To America Suddenly Dry-Up

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Saudi Arabia’s oil exports to the U.S. have suddenly fallen to a 22-year low according to August data provided by the Energy Information Administration (EIA). This places the kingdom in fifth place, behind Nigeria, in terms of U.S. oil imports.

The Barrel highlights that Saudi oil exports to the U.S. peaked in 2003 at 1.726 million barrels per day, then drifted down to 1.4 – 1.5 million barrels through 2008.

In August, America’s Saudi imports came in at a rate of just 745,000 barrels per day, the lowest since December of 1987.

The Barrel (Which is the blog of industry firm Platts) finds the development perplexing and can only guess at potential reasons. The emphasis below has been added.

The Barrel: So far this year, the EIA data shows, imports of Saudi crude have averaged just 1.022 million b/d, well below the 1.537 million b/d over the first eight months of last year, although that volume puts the kingdom in third place behind Mexico in second place and Canada in first.

A rebound in volumes over the remainder of this year could mean that the earlier blips were little more than an aberration. But what if that volume rebound does not happen? What will this mean for the Saudi-US relationship that has so much to do with oil?

Meanwhile, it’s difficult to offer one single explanation for the volume drops this year. Is it to do with pricing, OPEC quotas or an increasing Saudi focus on Asia, where future demand growth is expected to come from, or maybe a combination of all those things?

Read the full piece here.

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