Tanker Operators Look to U.S. to Replace Saudi Oil Cargoes

U.S. crude shipments are set to rise as major Asian importers look to replenish supplies after attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities took out a big chunk of global oil output.

“There are lots of inquiries for crude shipments out of the U.S. Gulf for Asian pickup,” said George Lazarides, head of research and valuations at Athens, Greece-based vessel brokerage Allied Shipbroking. “We expect that it will take at least three weeks for the disrupted Saudi output to get back online, and that’s pretty long.”

Drone and missile strikes at facilities in Saudi Arabia’s oil-rich eastern province knocked out roughly half of the country’s crude production, amounting to nearly 6% of global output. Tanker operators expect disruptions to run into October.

Prices to move crude cargoes are already rising, shipping executives said, as buyers seek oil from sources like the U.S. that will require longer trips to customers in Asia.

Brokers in Singapore and Europe say crude loadings at Ras Tanura, the major oil export port for the Saudi Arabian Oil Co.’s oil plant in Abqaiq that was struck by missiles on Saturday are largely idle for certain types of crude cargoes, with at least eight supertankers waiting outside the terminal.