Oil price agency S&P Global Platts is proposing to remove from next month restrictions it had placed on Qatari crude in its pricing assessment after Saudi Arabia and some other Arab states cut ties with Doha, a spokeswoman said on Wednesday. Platts, a unit of S&P Global Inc, initiated a review on June 6 on the deliverability of crude loading from Qatari ports in its Middle East crude price assessments after Saudi Arabia and the other states moved to isolate Qatar over charges that it was supporting terrorism. The dispute disrupted Gulf shipping routes and raised problems with oil and gas deliveries. That prompted Platts to stipulate that during its review Al-Shaheen loading from Qatar could not – unless mutually agreed by buyer and seller – be nominated for delivery once a deal had been struck in its pricing process known as market-on-close (MOC).
Platts is now proposing to include Al-Shaheen crude loading nominations from Qatar from July 3, following feedback from market participants that some shipping restrictions have been lifted, the company said in a subscriber note to its clients. “Platts has also observed vessels berthing at key co-load ports in the region before or after calling at Qatar for loading, clearly indicating that co-loading is normalising in the Gulf, including in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia,” it said. Shipowners and Charterers have received official notifications that clearly indicate that vessels may call into Gulf ports on the way from, or on the way to, Qatar ports, Platts also said.
Market participants have informed Platts, the price agency said, that while certain restrictions remain in place, port guidance from the UAE, Saudi Arabia and others have “relieved concerns about possible logistical constraints impacting any co-loading of Qatari crude”. A shipbroker who handles cargoes from Qatar told Reuters he has been informed ships are now allowed to load Qatari crudes in the UAE, but the situation is still uncertain, he said. Al-Shaheen crude from Qatar usually co-ships with other Gulf-based grades to make a full tanker load, meaning flexibility of movement is critical to transporting oil out of the region. Platts said it will continue to monitor events in the Middle East crude markets and is ready to renew its review of any crude stream deliverable into the Dubai and Oman benchmarks. It is currently inviting comments regarding the proposal.