Al-Khobar, Asharq Al-Awsat—Saudi Aramco may offer further discounts to Asian buyers of its oil in January, traders in Asia and analysts have said, as energy markets awaits the Kingdom’s announcement of official selling prices (OSPs) for the new year later this week.
Assessments by energy analyst Platts and surveys of Asian traders conducted by Bloomberg point to a likely price cut of 1–3 US dollars per barrel for OSPs of the Kingdom’s flagship Arabian Light crude.
This comes as rival Dubai crude traded at a 1.48 dollar per barrel discount on future prices, the widest since November 2008, according to Bloomberg. Aramco, the Kingdom’s state-owned oil company, had provided discounts of 1.05 dollars per barrel for December for its Asian, US and European buyers.
If the expectations for January prove correct, this would be the fifth straight price cut for the Kingdom’s Arabian Light by Aramco.
Global oil prices have fallen sharply since June, and falling demand from Asia has been one of the contributing factors in the decline.
The current market situation created by the Dubai crude discounts—where current prices stand at a discount to future prices—usually leads to a buying spree among traders looking to store supplies to sell later at higher prices.
This has led some observers to contend that Saudi Arabia was seeking to capitalize on this market situation, as well as increase its share in the lucrative Asian market in the face of stiff competition from Dubai crude.
However, Independent Kuwaiti oil analyst Essam Al-Marzouk, dismissed any accusations of “price wars” against the Kingdom’s current pricing decisions.
He told Asharq Al-Awsat Saudi Arabia likely wanted to give its buyers higher value for money on its oil, as prices usually rise in winter, and Arabian Light crude—an unrefined form of liquid petroleum—usually took around 60 days to refine.