Specifically, on a global scale the structural changes in oil products demand and crude supply will have an impact on refining margins and arbitrage. The report focuses on the fact that the refineries that lack the ability to upgrade or desulphurize fuel oil may lag behind.

Concerning Crude Oil, the Middle East began with an uncertainty following the attack. Therefore, VLCC owners and charterers held back waiting to see how the market would evolve. Due to Middle East's uncertainty, Gibson Shipbrokers expected to see a 10-15% increase in freight rates in West Africa. "Since then we’ve seen the perfect storm for Owners, with three load regions that have shown consistent enquiry and firmed, giving Suezmax Owners multiple employment options."

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In addition, cruse in the Mediterranean has seen an increase, as there's been a consistent stream of cargo activity that has thinned the tonnage list and has created pinch points for prompt dates. In the North Sea, the arrival of the Johan Sverdrup oil field will also boost the market.

Moreover, in light of the approaching 2020, more structural changes will follow, as gasoline exports is the key source of profitability in EU refineries. Yet, the demand is expected to decrease in the Atlantic Basin, whilst the potential start-up of Aliko Dangote’s Lekki refinery also threatens to starve off a key outlet for European gasoline.

Some old and less complex EU refineries will be affected from regulations and competition in the next five years, as they will have to cope with the 2020 sulphur cap regulations and then be able to compete with newer, more efficient plants.

Concluding, changes in the European refining scene will affect crude trade flows at a time when North Sea crude production is expected to rise. By 2024, Europe is expected to see its crude production increase by 440,000 b/d.

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See also

  1. OPEC+ cuts affect Middle East’s tanker market
  2. OPEC crude production falls to lowest level in four years