US refineries have upped their imports of Iraqi, Nigerian, Brazilian, and Angolan crude oil, with May volumes double that of April levels, data from Refinitiv Eikon showed on Monday.
Oil imports from these countries to the United States spiked as oil supply from Iran and Venezuela dried up, and as reduced OPEC production made scarce heavy sour and even medium sour grades. Of note, Iraqi oil rose to 600,000 barrels per day in May, just in time for summer driving season to come, Refnitiv data showed.
In February 2019, the latest official data available by the US Energy Information Administration, pegged Iraqi oil imports to the United States at 11.828 million, or about 422,000 bpd. Venezuela’s imports to the US had already fallen significantly by February, at 6.7 million barrels for the month, or 239,000 bpd.
Nigeria and Angola, too, are increasing their shipments to the US in May as well, at a combined 420,000 bpd, according to Refinitiv data, up from 19,000 bpd in February and up from 182,600 bpd in January.
Venezuela’s oil production shortcomings have changed the face of US oil imports, causing refineries that had previously relied on the heavy crude to shop elsewhere for similar-grade crude—refiners such as Citgo, Valero, and Chevron.
For Venezuela’s customers other than the United States, like India and China, US sanctions on Iran squeezed them even further. Already in March, shipments of Venezuela oil to India in April fell, and now India will even more strapped as its Iranian oil source is off the table as of last week when the waiver it had been given expired.
Iran has not minced words when it comes to the notion of OPEC members picking up the slack where oil is concerned. Iran last week made bold claims that Saudi Arabia and UAE will “draw the death and collapse of OPEC” should they fill the void left by Iranian oil barrels being restricted in the market, chastising OPEC members who wielded oil as a weapon.