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EU is Now the Largest Seaborne Importer of Crude Oil

The tanker market has benefited from the fact that the EU is now established as the single largest importer of crude oil by sea. In its latest weekly report, shipbroker Banchero Costa said that “2023 so far has been another positive period for crude oil trade, despite the high oil prices and risks of economic recession. In Jan-Jul 2023, global crude oil loadings went up +8.2% y-o-y to 1,262.3 mln tonnes, excluding all cabotage trade, according to vessels tracking data from Refinitiv. This was well above the 1,166.4 mln tonnes in Jan-Jul 2022 and the 1,083.3 mln t of Jan-Jul 2021, but also slightly above the 1,223.2 mln tonnes in the same period of 2019”.

According to the shipbroker, “exports from the Arabian Gulf were up +2.4% y-o-y to 510.5 mln t in JanJul 2023, and accounted for 40.4% of global seaborne crude oil trade. Exports from Russia have also increased by +6.2% y-o-y to 137.8 mln tonnes, or 10.9% of global trade. From West Africa, exports increased by +0.9% y-o-y to 101.2 mln t. From South America there was an increase of +25.6 y-o-y to 88.5 mln t in Jan-Jul 2023. In terms of demand, seaborne imports into China increased by +20.4% y-o-y to 295.0 mln t in JanJul 2023, 23.3% of global trade. Volumes into India increased +2.3% y-o-y to 136.9 mln t in Jan-Jul 2023. Shipments to ASEAN increased by +16.1% y-o-y to 137.4 mln t. To South Korea, volumes increased by +3.8% y-o-y to 82.3 mln t. Japanese imports declined by -6.7% y-o-y to 70.8 mln t in Jan-Jul 2023”.

Source: Banchero Costa

Banchero Costa noted that “the European Union has now once again emerged as the world’s largest seaborne importer of crude oil, after having been briefly overtaken by China in 2019-2021. In 2020, the 27 countries of the European Union imported 388.8 mln tonnes of crude oil by sea, according to Refinitiv vessel tracking data. This represented a net decline of -12.8% y-o-y, compared to the 446.0 mln tonnes imported in 2019. In 2021, seaborne imports into the EU recovered somewhat by +3.5% yo-y to 402.5 mln t. This however was still well below pre-Covid times. In the full 12 months of 2022, imports into the European Union rallied further by a massive +12.3% y-o-y to 452.0 mln tonnes”.

“In the first 7 months of 2023, the EU imported 275.7 mln tonnes of crude oil, up +5.3% y-o-y from the same period of 2022, with the EU accounting for 21.8% of global seaborne crude oil imports. About 15 percent of volumes discharged in the EU in Jan-Jul 2023 were carried in VLCCs, about 42 percent is carried in Suezmaxes, and about 42 percent in Aframaxes. Top ports in the EU in Jan-Jul 2023 were Rotterdam (58.7 mln tonnes of crude oil in Jan-Jul 2023), Trieste (20.6 mln t), Gdansk (19.4 mln t), Fos (12.7 mln t), Wilhelmshaven (11.2 mln t), Le Havre (10.3 mln t), Cartagena (8.4 mln t), Sarroch (6.9 mln t), Augusta (6.3 mln t), Algeciras (6.1 mln t), Sines (5.8 mln t). In terms of sources of the shipments, there has been understandably a bit of politically driven reshuffling”, the shipbroker noted.

Source: Banchero Costa

Meanwhile, “seaborne imports from Russia, declined by -43.4% y-o-y in Jan-Jul 2023 to 37.6 mln tonnes, from 66.5 mln tonnes in Jan-Jul 2022, and are down by more than half from the 80.2 mln t of Jan-Jul 2019. Russia has now fallen to the fourth largest source of seaborne oil to the EU, accounting for 13.6% of volumes in Jan-Jul 2023, behind the North Sea with 19.0%, North Africa with 17.8%, and the USA with 14.0%. Shipments from the North Sea (Norway and UK) were up +16.4% yo-y to 52.5 mln t in Jan-Jul 2023. Imports from North Africa (including from Sidi Kerir) were up by +31.2% yo-y to 49.0 mln t in Jan-Jul 2023. Imports from the USA surged by +30.3% y-o-y to a new all time record of 38.7 mln t in Jan-Jul 2023. Shipments from West Africa to Europe were up by +4.2% y-o-y to 30.0 mln tonnes in Jan-Jul 2023. Direct shipments from the Arabian Gulf also rebounded sharply by +63.1% y-o-y to 25.2 mln tonnes, but were still down compared to the 25.9 mln tonnes in Jan-Jul 2019. Volumes from Turkey (Ceyhan) were down by -23.7% y-o-y to 15.3 mln t, from 20.1 mln t of Jan-Jul 2022”, Banchero Costa concluded.
Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide

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