Iraq’s SOMO close to JV with China’s Zhenhua to boost crude sales

Flames rise from the burning of excess hydrocarbons at the Hammar Mushrif new Degassing Station Facilities site inside the Zubair oil and gas field, north of the southern Iraqi province of Basra on May 9, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 27 August 2018
0

Iraq’s SOMO close to JV with China’s Zhenhua to boost crude sales

  • The move will bolster Iraq’s position in Asia, the world’s biggest and fastest-growing oil-consuming region
  • China is under the pressure to cut oil purchases from Iran, OPEC’s third-largest producer

BEIJING/DUBAI: Iraq’s state oil marketer SOMO is close to a deal with China’s state-run Zhenhua Oil to boost the OPEC member’s crude oil sales to the world’s top oil importer, four sources with knowledge of the matter said.
Iraq is the second-largest producer in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). The move will bolster Iraq’s position in Asia, the world’s biggest and fastest-growing oil-consuming region, which already takes 60 percent its oil exports at some 3.8 million barrels a day (bpd).
“Zhenhua helped Iraq to penetrate the Chinese market and make more revenues for Iraq,” said a senior source familiar with the discussions on the deal, adding that a 50/50 proposed joint venture could be finalized in October or November.
Another source said the deal was pending regulatory approvals, giving no further details.
It is not clear where the JV would be located, but two of the sources familiar with the negotiations said the port city of Tianjin, near Beijing, was under discussion. Singapore is also among the options, they said.
All four sources declined to be named as they were not authorized to discuss commercial matters with media.
Zhenhua declined to comment. SOMO did not immediately respond to an email request for comment.

Under Pressure

China is under the pressure to cut oil purchases from Iran, OPEC’s third-largest producer, as the United States re-imposes sanctions on Tehran and threatens to choke off the Islamic republic’s oil exports to zero.
Amid the trade dispute between Washington and Beijing it is also unclear whether Chinese importers will be able to continue to import US crude.
The SOMO-Zhenhua deal would give China another crude supply option as the Iran and US oil flows are threatened.
Zhenhua’s relationship with SOMO goes back to former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s days, when China-based parent company defense conglomerate Norinco, was among the first Chinese entities active in Iraq’s oil and gas exploration.
Last year, Zhenhua won a term contract to supply diesel fuel to SOMO for the first time, and it also recently entered a deal to develop Iraq’s East Baghdad oilfield.
Zhenhua has been marketing Iraq’s main crude grade, Basra Light, for SOMO since the start of 2018 and has also sold some to Taiwan, said a separate Singapore-based trading source.
Zhenhua, the smallest of China’s state-run oil and gas majors, has over the past three years expanded its foothold in oil sales to independent Chinese refiners, which were only allowed to start importing crude from 2015 and now make up some 20 percent of China’s total crude imports.
Zhenhua’s crude sales to such independents, sometimes known as “teapots,” hit a record 6.5 million tons last year, or 131,000 bpd, equivalent to about 7 percent of overall teapot purchases, according to industry estimates.
China’s state oil majors Sinopec, CNOOC and PetroChina are regular Iraqi oil customers under term supply deals with SOMO or oilfield service contracts.


Saudi Aramco Trading aims for 50% rise in oil trade volume in 2020

Updated 24 September 2018
0

Saudi Aramco Trading aims for 50% rise in oil trade volume in 2020

  • About 50 percent of the 2.5 million bpd of oil products it trades currently are hedged
  • The company is also looking at building its capacity in trading liquefied natural gas

SINGAPORE: Saudi's Aramco Trading Company (ATC) expects to increase its oil trading volume to 6 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2020, 50 percent higher than current levels, the company's top official said on Monday.

"Currently ... we're at 4 million barrels per day and with expansion I think our target is 6 million barrels per day," President and Chief Executive Ibrahim Al-Buainain said at the Asia Pacific Petroleum Conference (APPEC).

About 50 percent of the 2.5 million bpd of oil products it trades currently are hedged, he said.

The company is also looking at building its capacity in trading liquefied natural gas (LNG), using its Singapore office as a trading hub, Buainain said.

ATC plans to set up its European office in either Geneva or London and also aims to have an office in Fujairah to manage oil storage, he said.

In Singapore, Buainain said he expects the company's office to grow to 30 to 40 people within the next two years.

ATC also expected to benefit from a switch by ships to cleaner fuels in 2020 as mandated by the International Maritime Organization.

"The second-hand effect of the IMO is the oversupply of high-sulphur fuel oil (HSFO) which in our case is a positive because we are net short on fuel oil and that will help us in meeting our requirements (for HSFO) in power generation," Buainain said.

Buainain has headed the trading arm of Saudi Aramco since 2016.

ATC was set up in 2012 to market refined products, base oils and bulk petrochemicals. It started trading non-Saudi crude oil and refined products from its overseas refineries in the past years as the world's largest oil exporter seeks to optimise profits.