Specifically, Chinese Unipec and South Korean Hyundai Oilbank Co. have deployed Johan Sverdrup for December delivery.
In light of the approaching 2020 sulphur cap, the demand of low-sulphur oil has been increasing, while supply of medium-density crude has been tight due to the attacks on Saudi Arabia and U.S. sanctions on Iran and Venezuela.
Thus, Johan Sverdrup, which pumped its first oil on October 23, is ideal as it acquires both of those qualities and has an attractive price that lures refiners. If Johan Sverdrup continues attracting refiners, there is a high possibility that it will jeopardise exports of its rival grades to the world’s top crude-consuming region.
Also, Bloomberg reports that the North Sea oil produced by Equinor ASA has been likened to Brazil’s Lula and Angola’s Saturno crudes. However, the latter has been having a stronger performance, as Angolan and Brazilian oil accounted for 10% and 8%, respectively, of Chinese imports in the first eight months of the year, according to government data. By comparison, Norwegian crude had a minuscule 0.04% share.
Shandong Qingyuan Group, a Chinese teapot, purchased approximately 1 million barrels of Johan Sverdrup at a premium of $6 to $6.50 a barrel to Brent crude on a delivered basis; This sums up to about $1 barrel cheaper than Lula and 20 to 30 cents less than Saturno, anonymous traders reported to Bloomberg.
Additional buyers were Unipec who purchased two shipments of Johan Sverdrup for October loading, while Hyundai Oilbank took an undisclosed volume of the grade
In addition, Equinor has been providing buyers with the option of co-loading with other varieties, which may help reduce the cost of shipping to Asia.
The disruption of Middle East supplies and declining output from Angola have created a market opening in Asia for Johan Sverdrup, said Senthil Kumaran, a senior oil analyst at industry consultant FGE in Singapore.