Does the Suez Canal stop affect global oil shipments?


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A ship rescue company says that a giant container ship blocking the shipping course of the Suez Canal could remain stuck for days, hindering the movement of oil and fuel shipments between Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

How much oil passes through the canal?

Of the 39.2 million barrels per day of crude oil imported by sea in 2020, 1.74 million barrels per day used the canal, according to Kepler’s tanker traffic data.

What is the direction of the crude oil flowing?

Crude oil and refined products flow in both directions in the 193 km long Suez Canal. In 2020, Europe imported 550,000 barrels per day of crude from sources east of Suez, most of it through the canal, according to Kepler’s figures.

South and East Asia imports through the canal reached 1.27 million barrels per day in June 2020, but deliveries subsequently declined to 310,000 barrels per day in November.

How about refined products?

Just slightly less than 9 percent, or 1.54 million barrels per day, of global refined product imports passed into the Suez Canal last year, according to Kepler. Naphtha, a feedstock for the plastics industry, makes up a large portion of the refined product supply that uses the canal.

Kepler says two distillate tankers loaded with diesel and jet fuel are waiting for Thursday to sail towards the Mediterranean, while two tankers are waiting to set sail east.

Are there pipelines parallel to the channel?

The SUMED pipeline, which is 320 km long, connects the Gulf of Suez with the Mediterranean Sea, and transports 80 percent of the oil destined for Europe, according to the Sumed website.

The capacity of the line is about 2.8 million barrels per day, but it is used at much lower rates most of the time. The U.S. Energy Information Administration says pipeline flows were around 1.3 million bpd in 2018.

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