One of the difficulties in constructing a narrative for the crude oil market and the output cuts promised by major exporters is what set of numbers to believe.
It’s possible to argue that Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s biggest exporter and the force behind the cuts, is either doing more than its share, or less, depending on the numbers used.
The export data published by the Joint Oil Data Initiative (JODI) on May 18 would support the view that the Saudis have more than met their commitment to the November deal between the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allied producers to cut output by a combined 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd).
The JODI numbers show the Saudis exported 7.23 million bpd in March, slightly up from February’s 6.96 million bpd, and down from January’s 7.71 million bpd.
Vessel-tracking and port data compiled by Thomson Reuters Supply Chain and Commodity Forecasts, however, tells a different story. This data shows Saudi exports of crude averaged 7.67 million bpd in the first quarter, down only 180,000 bpd from the 7.85 million bpd in the last quarter of 2016.
The above tracking and port figures were obtained by filtering the data to show vessels that have been discharged, are in the process of discharging, or are underway.
It’s interesting to note that the vessel-tracking data for the fourth quarter of 2016 shows Saudi exports actually lower than what the JODI numbers state, by some 120,000 bpd.
The shipping data, however, also shows exports in the first quarter of 2017 were 370,000 bpd higher than what JODI reports.
A small discrepancy could be ascribed to differences in assessing how much oil was aboard each vessel, but 370,000 bpd is a large gap, equivalent to about five very large crude carriers (VLCCs) a month.
The JODI data is based on self-reporting. The Saudis, along with the other countries that participate in the venture, provide the numbers themselves, and these are then collated and released monthly.
The tanker-tracking figures rely on International Maritime Organization (IMO) data provided by individual ships, as well as by collating port and other reports.
WHAT TO BELIEVE?
Autrement dit : pour les exportations de pétrole, peut-on se fier aux données déclaratives fournies par les saoudiens ?
Poser la question en ces termes, c’est quasiment y répondre… Ce qui est intéressant, c’est l’intervention dans le débat des données issues du #scraping et du #tracking.