Saudi Aramco looks to become China’s biggest crude supplier

Saudi Aramco’s crude supply deals with China come as Beijing looks to reduce its reliance on US crude imports amid a trade war with Washington. Above, Aramco’s Abqaiq oil facility. (Reuters)
Updated 28 November 2018

Saudi Aramco looks to become China’s biggest crude supplier

  • New supply contracts make it very likely that Saudi Aramco next year will become China’s largest supplier
  • Russia currently accounts for the lion’s share of China’s oil imports, supplying some $23.7 billion worth of crude last year

LONDON: Saudi Aramco is moving closer to becoming China’s largest supplier after striking five new crude supply deals with Beijing.
It will help to take the total volume to 1.67 million barrels per day (bpd).
“The new supply contracts make it very likely that Saudi Aramco next year will become China’s largest supplier, a position it also held from 2006 until 2016,” the Saudi oil company said in a statement.
Russia currently accounts for the lion’s share of China’s oil imports, supplying some $23.7 billion worth of crude last year, or 14.6 percent of its total oil imports.
Top Aramco officials this month attended the first China International Import Expo in Shanghai.
The delegation included Ahmed Al-Khunaini, manager of Saudi Aramco’s Crude Oil Sales and Marketing Department, and Anwar Al-Hejazi, Aramco Asia president.
Aramco earlier agreed a crude oil supply agreement with Zhejiang Petroleum and Chemical Co. (ZPC) on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Petroleum Conference (APPEC) in Singapore.
“Large, integrated crude-to-chemical projects like ZPC and Hengli are the future of China’s downstream industry and I am excited Saudi Aramco will be part of their success story,” said Saudi Aramco Senior Vice President Abdulaziz Al-Judaimi.
The new supply agreements are the result of Aramco’s marketing efforts that focus on customer diversification, strategic relationships, and tapping regional demand previously not supplied by Saudi Aramco, the national oil company said.
They are an important part of diversifying Saudi Aramco’s customer base and capturing a large share of China’s future incremental oil demand, which will increasingly come from private refiners.
Annual economic growth of more than 6 percent is supporting demand for oil imports in China as the country adds more refining and petrochemical capacity.
Beijing is also seeking to reduce its reliance on US crude imports amid a trade war with Washington, analysts say.
“Chinese buyers, anticipating that crude and LNG could go on the list if tensions escalate further, are looking to alternative sources,” Richard Mallinson, co-founder of London consultancy Energy Aspects, told Arab News in August.
OPEC already provides 56 percent of China’s oil imports, according to the International Energy Agency.
China’s crude imports grew year on year during the third quarter of 2018 according to data from Bloomberg NEF, despite a fall in imports coming from Iran.
China imported nearly 10 million barrels of oil per day last month.


Kuwait MPs launch probe into Airbus deal

Updated 19 February 2020

Kuwait MPs launch probe into Airbus deal

  • The decision came after a debate on allegations that Airbus paid kickbacks to secure a deal 6 years ago
  • The parliament also asked the finance ministry to review recent aircraft deals involving state-owned Kuwait Airways

KUWAIT CITY: Kuwait's parliament on Wednesday formed a fact-finding panel to probe alleged kickbacks in a deal between the national carrier and Airbus, which last month paid massive fines to settle bribery scandals.
The parliament's decision came after a special debate on allegations that Airbus paid kickbacks to secure a 25-aircraft deal six years ago.
It also asked the Audit Bureau, the state accounting watchdog, to investigate the deal, which was reportedly worth billions of dollars, although exact figures were never released.
Kuwait Airway Co. in 2014 ordered 15 Airbus 320neo and 10 Airbus 350, with delivery beginning last year and continuing until 2021.
Opposition lawmaker Riyadh al-Adasani told the session that Kuwait was mentioned in a settlement struck by Airbus in a British court on January 31, along with the names of some Kuwaiti officials and citizens.
Under the settlement, Airbus agreed to pay 3.6 billion euros ($3.9 billion) in fines to Britain, France and the United States to settle corruption probes into some of its aircraft sales.
Days after the settlement, Sri Lanka ordered an investigation into a multi-billion dollar aircraft purchase from Airbus after the deal was named in the settlement.
The former chief of Sri Lankan Airlines, Kapila Chandrasena, was arrested on February 6 for allegedly receiving bribes relating to the deal.
Earlier this month, two senior officials of the Malaysia-based AirAsia stepped aside while authorities probe unusual payments at the carrier, as the fallout from the Airbus scandal reverberated across the industry.
Kuwait in recent years also initiated criminal investigations into two large military aircraft deals involving Airbus -- a $9 billion Eurofighter Typhoon warplanes deal and a contract for 30 Caracal military helicopters costing $1.2 billion.