Asia-bound exports of Azeri BTC Blend crude that load from the Turkish port of Ceyhan rose sharply in August compared with the prior month, with shipments heading to a range of buyers in the region.
The share of light sweet BTC Blend exports going to Asia increased in August amid demand for light sweet Mediterranean grades by Asian refiners, coinciding with more ample supply in the local European region, even as total Azeri BTC Blend exports remained broadly steady month-on-month.
August loadings included two 1mn bl cargoes to India, and a 1mn bl cargo to Indonesia—both countries are regular customers of the grade.
The first BTC Blend cargo to Vietnam since November departed in August, with 1mn bl headed to the Dung Quat refinery aboard Kriti Spirit, and the first export to Thailand since March left for Sriracha aboard MT Sarasota.
Meanwhile the VLCC Taqah departed from Ceyhan laden with 2mn bl of BTC Blend crude on 22 August—the first shipment of this size since end-April. The tanker is expected to deliver to the Far East, according to provisional fixture lists, with some shipping reports indicating she could head to Taiwan.
Three other 2mn bl cargoes have loaded from Ceyhan this year, taking the route around the Cape of Good Hope and delivering to ports in Taiwan during April, May and June. Exports of BTC Blend aboard VLCCs in 2018 have almost approached the five seen throughout 2017, which was down from higher numbers in 2016. Last year’s shipments were picked up by refiners in Taiwan and China.
Exports of BTC Blend to Asia-Pacific are expected to continue during September, with a 1mn bl cargo already scheduled to load for Taiwan at the beginning of the month.
Light supply in Europe supported
BTC Blend exports to Europe surged in July as disruptions to Libyan production boosted demand for competing grades in the European, and especially Mediterranean, region.
Libyan crude exports, excluding condensate, fell below 700,000 b/d in July, their lowest level since April 2017. In the same month, BTC Blend exports to the Mediterranean region reached their highest in around a year.
But despite the temporary drop in Libyan flows, European light crude supplies have been well-supported in recent weeks. Libyan exports in August climbed back to around 1mn b/d, the bulk of which remained in the Mediterranean.
Higher floating storage volumes in the European region in recent weeks underlined the ample availability of light crude supply, Vortexa data showed. Excluding a dip at the beginning of August, the region’s floating storage levels reached their highest since end-May on 19-22 August, peaking as high as 14mn bl on 20 August. They retreated since, averaging around 9mn bl in the past seven days.