Saudis seen cutting oil price for first time in four months
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Saudis seen cutting oil price for first time in four months

Saudis seen cutting oil price for first time in four months

OPEC and allied producers have started to ease output curbs amid weakening demand

Oil prices

Saudi Arabia may have little choice but to reduce the price of its oil as OPEC and allied producers start to ease output curbs amid weakening demand that’s crashed the value of physical supplies.

Aramco is expected to cut the official selling price for its flagship Arab Light grade by 48 cents a barrel for September sales to Asia, the median estimate in a survey of eight traders and refiners across the region shows.

It would be the first drop in four months after a series of hikes that came as OPEC+ cut output and consumption recovered as Asian economies emerged from lockdowns.

A reduction in Saudi OSPs could signal a pause or even a reversal in the rapid recovery across oil markets from the coronavirus. While Asia led the world in the demand rebound, crude and product stockpiles remain stubbornly high and the pandemic is still surging or staging a comeback in many countries. Floods and logistical bottlenecks in China in recent weeks have also contributed to a slump in imports, while Indian fuel sales are dropping again.

September-loading cargoes of Arab Light for Asia could be priced at a 72 cents a barrel premium to the average of benchmark Oman and Dubai crude prices, according to the survey. That’s down from a $1.20 premium for August. Saudi Aramco typically releases its official prices in the first five days of the month.

The state-owned producer didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment. Aramco is typically the first among Middle Eastern producers to announce monthly official prices, setting the tone for sellers in Iraq, Kuwait and Abu Dhabi.

The price of spot crude cargoes from Russia to Angola to Brazil has plummeted this month after a pull-back in purchases from top importers including China. Refining margins are still well below five-year lows on a seasonally adjusted basis in the Asian oil hub of Singapore, weighing on the ability of processors in the region to turn a profit and pay more for crude.

Other Middle Eastern producers may be forced to cut OSPs as OPEC and its allies such as Russia start to ease output curbs from next month. Global benchmark Brent crude is poised for a third straight monthly gain, but August may prove to be more challenging as the increase in supply hits a global economy that’s still far from bringing the virus under control.

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