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Why The U.S. Is Suddenly Buying A Lot More Saudi Oil

Why The U.S. Is Suddenly Buying A Lot More Saudi Oil

oil storage

For a few months now, OPEC has been boosting production to ease concerns about high oil prices amid expected supply losses from Venezuela and Iran.

The cartel’s largest producer and exporter, Saudi Arabia, has been specifically targeting an increase in crude oil exports to the most transparent market, the United States, which reports crude oil imports and inventory levels every week.

On the one hand, the Saudis are looking to regain their foothold in the American market after having cut shipments to the United States to a 30-year-low at the end of last year, when OPEC’s efforts to erase the global oil glut were in full swing.

On the other hand, the Saudis are responding to the demands of their staunch ally U.S. President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly slammed OPEC for the high gasoline prices, urging the cartel in early July to “REDUCE PRICING NOW!”

In the week to August 31, the four-week average of U.S. crude oil imports from Saudi Arabia exceeded 1 million bpd for the first time since June 2017, data by the EIA showed.

At that time last year, Saudi Arabia started to purposefully reduce its exports to the United States, where inventory data and refinery runs are reported every week. Those reports influence the price of oil and investor sentiment.

In the last week of October 2017, the four-week average of U.S. imports from Saudi Arabia was just 506,000 bpd—almost half of the four-week average of 1.009 million bpd for the last week of August this year.

In October 2017, U.S. imports from Saudi Arabia stood at 582,000 bpd—the lowest level since November 1987, as OPEC’s leader, its fellow OPEC members, and Russia-led non-OPEC allies part of the production cut pact were working to drain the global oil glut that weighed on oil prices and on the incomes of oil producing countries.

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