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Saudi Arabia Raised Crude Oil Prices Globally in May, Hitting new highs in Asia
Saudi Arabia Raised Crude Oil Prices Globally in May, Hitting new highs in Asia

Saudi Arabia Raised Crude Oil Prices Globally in May, Hitting new highs in Asia

  • 06-Apr-2022 1:53 PM
  • Journalist: Timothy Greene

On April 4, Monday, Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil exporter, increased crude oil prices for all regions, with those to Asia touching all-time highs as Russian supply disruptions underpin prices. Saudi Aramco, the world's largest oil company, increased its flagship Arab Light crude's official selling price (OSP) to Asia in May to $9.35 a barrel over Oman/Dubai crude, the grade's greatest premium ever. All oil grades witnessed the most price rises in Asia, followed by Northwest Europe, the Mediterranean, and the United States. Traders speculated that the company may have moderated the price hike after raising prices more than planned in April.

Several reasons contributed to the rise in Saudi OSPs, which tend to set the pricing trend for other major Middle Eastern exporters. Spot premiums for Middle East grades reached all-time highs in March, a trend that normally indicates higher OSPs due to strong refiner demand. However, in recent trading sessions, these have fallen as physical dealers consider the impact of more crude being released from key importing countries' strategic reserves, led by the United States' agreement to deliver 180 million barrels of oil over a six-month period. Another element driving the increase in the OSPs for May cargoes is Asian refiners' excellent profits, particularly for medium distillates like diesel.

The record Saudi crude prices for Asia has also come as buyer aversion and western sanctions on Russia, the world's leading exporter of crude and oil products combined, damaged the country's oil exports following the Ukraine conflict. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), Russian crude and refined products could lose 3 million barrels per day (bpd) in April.

Keeping in mind that there is some anxiety regarding future demand, since it appears that global growth will be difficult to achieve. Brent markets have also sought to recover but have given back gains to show signs of hesitation just below the $110 level, which has historically been a key threshold.

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