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Oil, Gas, Petrochemical and Energy Field Specialized Channel

Saudi Arabia will not be Able to Fill Looming Oil Supply Gap

Saudi Arabia has been under pressure by the US to pump more barrels to prevent oil prices from overheating.

 

Iranian oil minister Bijan Zanganeh on Monday dismissed claims by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that Saudi Arabia was prepared to make up for any oil market shortfall caused by US sanctions on geopolitical rival Iran.

"It seems that such remarks were made under US pressure on Saudi authorities," Zanganeh said, according to oil ministry news service Shana. "Otherwise in reality, neither the Saudis nor any other countries could replace Iran's exports."

Iran's crude and condensate exports fell by 11.5% to 1.7 million b/d in September from 1.92 million b/d in August, their lowest in at least two-and-a-half years, an S&P Global Platts analysis of trade flow data found Monday.

Platts Analytics expects Iranian crude and condensate exports to fall to 1.1 million b/d by October loadings, and to 800,000 b/d by Q4 2019, down from 2.91 million b/d in April.

But shipping and trading sources say clandestine deliveries may be occurring, as Iran attempts to continue shipments to key buyers without being detected by US authorities.

In an interview with Bloomberg News published Friday, the Saudi crown prince said the kingdom and its allies in an OPEC/non-OPEC coalition have recently boosted output by some 1.5 million b/d, more than doubling the 700,000 b/d loss in Iranian supplies.

"We export as much as two barrels for any barrel that disappeared from Iran recently," Prince Mohammed said. "So we did our job and more."

Saudi Arabia has been under pressure by the US to pump more barrels to prevent oil prices from overheating. Platts first reported Wednesday that the US State Department accused OPEC of withholding some 1.4 million b/d in spare production capacity from the market.

Prince Mohammed, in his interview, said the US had only asked Saudi Arabia to replace shut-in Iranian barrels, not to flood the market with extra crude.

"The request that America made to Saudi Arabia and other OPEC countries is to be sure that if there is any loss of supply from Iran, that we will supply that," he said. "And that happened."

Zanganeh, however, reiterated his skepticism that Saudi Arabia has enough spare capacity to keep the market sufficiently supplied to prevent any price spike caused by US sanctions.

Saudi Arabia has never pumped higher than 10.7 million b/d across an entire month, the level that Saudi energy minister Khalid al-Falih last week said the kingdom would average in October. But it claims to be able to produce 12 million b/d at will.

"The market and rising prices are the best evidence of concern that the market is in short supply and is rightly nervous about the severe shortage of oil in the coming months," Zanganeh said.

 

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