Middle East oil outflows tumble with VLCCs idle
A significant fall in demand for the transport of crude has caused Middle East outflows of oil to tumble to their lowest levels since before the summer, according to Platts ship-tracking tool cFlow.
This has resulted in numerous VLCCs being idled for longer while ample supply and low bunker fuel prices have continued to push down freight rates, the analysts agency said.
Over the week to Wednesday, sailings from Saudi Arabia, Iraq's Basrah, Iran and the wider Middle East fell to their lowest levels since before the start of June, according to cFlow data, as refinery run cuts across parts of Asia weakened demand.
Departures from Saudi Arabia fell to 24 this week, from 30 last week, while total sailings for August slipped to a four-month low of 125 VLCCs, down from 137 in July.
Five tankers left over the week from Iraq's southern terminals, while in August, a total of 36 departed, up from 34 in July.
The slight increase in VLCC sailings was in contrast to actual crude oil exports from Basrah on all ship-types, which fell in August, to 3.021 million b/d, a drop of 43,000 b/d from July.
Oil ministry spokesman Asim Jihad attributed the fall to a technical fault in the export system.
Iranian weekly sailings dipped to three, the lowest since mid-July, while total departures for August fell to nine, an all-time low for the year thus far.
The volume of outflow from the Middle East is typically lower than the count of ships leaving the region's individual ports because over a quarter of VLCCs tend to co-load.