Saudi supertankers are facing delays in unloading crude oil in American ports in the Gulf of Mexico, Bloomberg reports citing industry sources.
Since late April, at least three Saudi oil-carrying ships are said to have waited over a week to unload after arriving at the US coast. The process typically takes from four to six days.
"I expect the oil to get into the US only with some delay,” Peter Sand, chief shipping analyst at the maritime trade group BIMCO, told Bloomberg.
It comes as Saudi Arabia ramped up its crude production and export in April after the collapse of an OPEC+ deal on output cuts. There were 18 supertankers, each laden with 2 million barrels of oil, headed to the Gulf of Mexico last month. They were loaded in eastern Saudi Arabia in late March and early April, according to oil industry analysts.
The influx of tankers has pushed up the costs of renting lightering ships. According to Bloomberg estimates, the price per trip reportedly mushroomed from $50,000 to $350,000 this month, complicating the transfer of oil from tankers to ports.
Meanwhile, the unusual tanker congestion was aggravated by refineries cancelling or deferring their crude orders amid falling demand. An analysis by an energy research firm published at the end of April showed that 28 tankers with Saudi oil, carrying a total of 43 million barrels, were set to arrive on the US Gulf and West coasts in the coming weeks. They are expected to meet a fleet of 76 tankers already waiting for a slot to unload.