SINGAPORE/LONDON, (Reuters) – Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia will keep its crude oil supplies to Asia and Europe in February at the same levels as in January, officials at refiners in both regions said on Monday.
Three Asian lifters of Saudi crude said the kingdom would supply the full contracted volumes of crude to Asia for February.
“We got no cut on our February Saudi grade liftings. We got the volume we nominated,” one lifter said, adding that there would be no additional volumes.
Three lifters said they had yet to receive an official notification of full volumes.
This is the fourth month in a row that the oil kingdom supplies full volumes to Asia.
In Europe too, the allocations for February were unchanged from January levels, officials at two European refiners said.
“It is the same amount as January. There were rumours they could allocate a little bit more, but there is no improvement,” a source in one refiner told Reuters.
OPEC’s largest producer raised term exports to Asia by a tenth for November to full contracted volumes after it convinced other members of the cartel to boost daily output by 500,000 barrels from Nov.1, in response to a jump in prices past $80 a barrel for the first time in September.
Lifters around the region had largely expected Saudi crude allocations to hold steady despite the surge in oil prices to above $100 earlier this month.
Refining sources said last week they had little need and ability to process additional heavy sour crude, which makes up much of Saudi Arabia’s spare capacity.
A few customers were believed to have asked for additional volumes for February.
One possibility is India, where refiners are negotiating their April 2008-March 2009 term volumes with Saudi Aramco and are expected to seek larger contracts as new complex plants, such as Reliance’s 580,000 barrels per day facility, come on stream.
But it was not yet clear if India had received additional volumes as requested.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is ready to boost output when the market needs more, the group’s secretary-general said in an interview published on Sunday.
Abdullah al-Badri told Cyprus’ Phileleftheros newspaper that speculators had driven oil prices to record highs, rather than any supply shortage.
OPEC, source of more than a third of the world’s oil, would monitor the market closely in the run up to its next meeting on Feb. 1, Badri added.
OPEC officials have said there is little they could do to tame soaring oil prices, despite concern among some members of the economic impact of high energy costs.
Oil CLc1 hit a record high of $100.09 on Jan.2 but prices have since retreated to around $93 a barrel on Monday.