oil port of Jebel Dhanna.
The stakes are high for exporters reliant on oil revenues to finance growing national budgets. They have to find a balance between retaining market share and steady income.
Despite more aggressive sales tactics, OPEC is likely to see its market share fall. In its annual oil outlook, the group said it could lose almost 8 percent of the market in the next five years to shale and other competing supply sources.
"The current oil price is at a level that producing countries want to maintain," said a trader with a Chinese refiner. "But the market is long so they need to fight for market share."
The flip side of the competition between Middle East exporters is that Asian refiners are benefiting from cheaper oil bills.
Iraq and Kuwait have offered to extend the payment period for crude to 60 days from 30 days. That extra month of credit could save Indian refiners, for example, close to $300,000 a day on the nearly 1 million bpd of Iraqi and Kuwait crude they buy, one Indian refining source said.