Economy
Saudi Arabia is losing market share to its OPEC rivals

Saudi Arabia is losing market share to its OPEC rivals


Iraq and Iran increased their crude oil shipments abroad last month, taking advantage of lower Saudi exports to key destinations to expand their international market share.

 

Data from Bloomberg suggests that Iraq, OPEC’s number-two exporter, shipped 3.98 million bpd to foreign clients in September—the highest daily rate since last December. Iran, for its part, exported 2.28 million bpd in September, the highest since February.

 

One analyst from Energy Aspects, Richard Mallinson, told Bloomberg that “Iraq and Iran are both very opportunistic in selling into markets where buyers are no longer getting the same Saudi volumes. We’ve seen Saudi Arabia’s exports lower over the last several months, which is consistent with their focus on the re-balancing process.”

 

The two neighbors have also made no secret of their oil production expansion plans. Despite their participation in the OPEC-wide production cut, Iraq and are Iran both eager to boost their crude oil production sooner rather than later.

 

Iraq, for example, has announced plans to boost its oil production capacity to 5 million bpd and the development of three fields, West Qurna-1, Halfaya, and Zubair could provide the additional capacity. This means that Iraq will be very reluctant to agree to any further extension to the OPEC deal, which Russia’s Vladimir Putin last week suggested could be extended until end-2018 if need be.

 

Iran is growing its production, as it was allowed to pump an additional 90,000 bpd based on its October production level under the OPEC cut deal, and it is expanding its footprint in Asia. China is a major destination for Iranian crude, and fresh cargo data from Bloomberg suggests that last month Iran exported 600,000 bpd to China, versus 833,000 bpd of Asia-bound crude oil exports for Saudi Arabia.

 

Iraq has more choices: it can also export to the U.S. In September, Iraq shipped 871,000 bpd to the States, exceeding the level of Saudi exports to the U.S. for the second month in a row. In August, Iraqi oil shipments to the U.S. were twice as high as Saudi’s U.S.-bound oil exports.