Tankers: Signs of Stabilization in Declining Crude Oil Exports from Kuwait
According to the shipbroker’s report, “Kuwait is the fourth largest exporter of crude oil in the Middle East after Saudi, Iraq and the UAE. In 2020, Kuwaiti ports accounted for 4.8% of global crude oil loadings. This covers cargoes loading in Mina al Ahmadi (by far the main loading port in Kuwait), and Mina Saud. About 9 percent of volumes loaded in Mina al Ahmadi are carried in VLCCs, and about 8 percent is loaded on Suezmaxes. In the 12 months of 2019, Kuwaiti seaborne crude oil exports were as high as 101.3 mln tonnes.
In 2020, however, limited global demand due to the pandemic affected shipments. In the 12 months of 2020, Kuwait managed to ship just 97.5 mln tonnes of crude oil, down -3.8% year-on-year. For comparison, Saudi Arabia’s exports declined by -3.2% y-o-y in 2020, those from Russia declined by -13.1% last year, from West Africa they were down by -9.2% y-o-y. Therefore, Kuwait performed above average last year. This has been aided, no doubt, by a strong focus on Asian markets. As much as 92% of Kuwait’s crude exports are shipped east of Suez. The only major exporter which performed really well last year were the Unites States, with exports increasing by +7.1% y-o-y”.
Banchero Costa added that “things didn’t really improved that much so far in 2021, but at least appear to be stabilizing. In the first 9 months of 2021, seaborne crude oil exports from Kuwait were down -6.6% y-o-y from the same period of 2020, at 70.0 mln tonnes, which compares to 75.0 mln tonnes in the same period of 2020, and 75.2 mln tonnes in the same period of 2019. In the first quarter of 2021 Kuwait exported 22.4 mln tonnes, which represents a decline of -18.7% y-o-y from the 27.5 mln tonnes of 1Q 2020, but is essentially flat on the 22.5 mln tonnes of 4Q 2020 and the 23.9 mln tonnes of 3Q 2020. The second quarter of 2021 saw 23.9 mln tonnes shipped from Kuwait, which was marginally up +1.0% y-o-y from the already depressed 2Q 2020, and down -2.9% from the second quarter of 2019, keeping the trend. The third quarter of 2021 kept flat in volumes with 23.8 mln tonnes shipped from Kuwait, which was marginally down -0.3% y-o-y from the already weak 3Q 2020, and down -6.7% from the second quarter of 2019, which just keeps the trend. September 2021 didn’t see any particular change in trend, with 7.8 mln tonnes, fairly average for this year and technically up +5.8% from the very poor September 2020 but down -7.1% from (pre-Covid) September 2019. In terms of destinations for the shipments, as we already mentioned it’s over 90% to Asia.
The shipbroker concluded its analysis by noting that “in the first 9 months of 2021, Kuwait shipped 22.1 mln tonnes to Mainland China, which represents a +13.5% y-oy increase from 19.5 mln tonnes in Jan-Sep 2020, and is also more than the 16.1 mln tonnes in Jan-Sep 2019. China accounts for 31.6% of Kuwait’s total crude imports this year. Kuwait also shipped 9.8 mln tonnes to South Korea, which represents a decline of -29.7% y-o-y from 13.9 mln tonnes in the same period of 2020, and -38.5% less than the 15.9 mln tonnes in Jan-Sep 2019. The third top destination is India, with 9.5 mln tonnes, or 13.6% of Kuwait’s total exports. Shipments from Kuwait to India increased by +30.2% y-o-y in Jan-Sep 2021 from 7.3 mln tonnes in Jan-Sep 2020, and are also up +19.3% from the 8.0 mln tonnes in Jan-Sep 2019”.
Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide