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U.S. Takes Lead as Top Supplier to Europe for Crude, Diesel and LNG

2/27/2024

(Reuters) — The United States has taken the top spot as Europe’s supplier of crude oil, diesel, and liquefied natural gas (LNG) in recent months, capitalizing on reduced imports from east of Suez caused by shipping disruptions in the Red Sea.

“The U.S. is in top position on basically all the key commodities that Europe needs to buy,” Kpler crude analyst Viktor Katona said at an industry event in London.

The U.S. shipped 2.17 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil to Europe so far this month, according to Kpler data. Exports of diesel stood at 207,000 bpd in the same period, outpacing Saudi imports of around 201,000 bpd.

No LNG cargoes are currently in the Red Sea, Kpler data show. QatarEnergy, one of the world’s largest exporters of LNG, said in January that it had stopped sailing via the Red Sea citing security concerns.

The United States became the world’s largest LNG exporter last year, and its exports are expected to double by the end of the decade.

Shipping risks have escalated due to repeated drone and missile strikes by Yemen’s Houthis in the Red Sea and Bab al-Mandab Strait since November, which they say is in support of Palestinians in Gaza.

A U.S.-led coalition – named Operation Prosperity Guardian – was launched back in December to thwart Houthi attacks on commercial shipping, with strikes against Houthi positions in Yemen beginning in January.

But, Houthi attacks on shipping have only persisted. Crude and product traffic through the Suez Canal is around 30-40% lower than October levels, Kpler said.

“This idea that the Atlantic basin increasingly starts to trade within itself…is very much represented by the fact that the U.S. has become the largest player in the European market,” Katona said.

The U.S. dominance in diesel exports to Europe could wane if the conflict in the Red Sea subsides, as that would allow the fuel to be shipped from the Middle East and India towards Europe once again, he added.

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