Suez Canal Blockage May Ripple Through Global Energy Market
(Bloomberg) The Suez Canal blockage by a giant container vessel is likely to send ripples of disruption through the global energy supply chain. European and U.S. refiners that rely on the vital waterway for cargoes of Middle Eastern oil may be forced to look for replacement supplies should the blockage persist, potentially boosting prices of alternative grades. At the same time, flows of crude from North Sea fields destined for Asia will be held up. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Julianne Cona (@fallenhearts17) The critical trade route has been thrown into turmoil after the container ship ran aground on Tuesday, blocking traffic in both directions.
While the vessel is only likely to remain stuck for a couple of days, that’ll be long enough to scramble some energy flows, creating an extra headache for refiners, traders, and producers already coping with the pandemic’s fallout. However, local pipeline networks should help alleviate some of the disruptions.“There are plenty of alternative trades for European importers to avoid the Suez Canal,” said Ralph Leszczynski, head of research at shipbroker Banchero Costa & Co. See also: Suez Canal Snarled With Giant Ship Stuck in Top Trade ArteryBuyers in
According to shipbrokers, Europe and the U.S. may now look to other regions, including the U.S. Gulf, North Sea, Russia, and West Africa. Varieties including Mars Blend from the U.S. Gulf, the Urals from Russia, and even Asian and Russian Far East grades are likely to get a boost due to increased demand, an analyst and one of the shipbrokers said. The logistical challenge comes at a volatile time. Global benchmark Brent sank about 6% on Tuesday on concern near-term demand may prove weaker than expected amid renewed lockdowns.
On Wednesday, prices advanced, with at least 100 vessels waiting to transit between the Red Sea and the Mediterranean. The canal is a crucial route, mainly used to transport Middle Eastern crude to Europe and the U.S. and shipping fuel oil from the west to the east. The canal can take fully-laden Suezmax vessels that carry about 1 million barrels and bigger Very Large Crude Carriers, as long as they transfer some cargo out of the boat before transiting. Daily, about 600,000 barrels of crude or less flow from the Middle East to Europe and the U.S. via the canal, while volumes from the Atlantic Basin to Asia total about 850,000 barrels a day, according to Anoop Singh, head of East of Suez tanker research at Braemar ACM Shipbroking Pte.