First oil cargo to Japan
A contract signed last week with a Japanese refinery for two million barrels of Oseberg oil marks a breakthrough for Statoil's crude traders in the Asia-Pacific market.
This deal calls for a first very large crude carrier (VLCC) for Japan to be loaded in mid-September at the Sture terminal near Bergen. The voyage takes roughly 45 days. Statoil's daily crude deliveries to the Asia-Pacific market have averaged 82 000 barrels so far this year, compared with about 5 000 barrels three years ago.
"You've got to hold out and take the time required for building relationships to achieve this," says Gunnar Sletvold, vice president for crude oil trading at Statoil.
"We've eventually established a reputation in Asia-Pacific, where buyers regard us as a reliable supplier even though we're on the other side of the world."
Explaining the recent sales rise, he says Statoil has been good at utilising today's favourable freight market. Norwegian crude is also competitive in both quality and price.
"Middle Eastern oil is very expensive - currently USD 0.20-0.40 per barrel higher than Brent Blend - and west African production has declined."
Mr Sletvold regards Asia-Pacific very important for Statoil, which will be supplying the region with 125 000 barrels during September. Sales are also expected to increase substantially.
The trading network, which has offices in Singapore, Stavanger, London and Stamford in the USA, is now working to expand its customer base in the region beyond Taiwan, China and now Japan.