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EIA: Kuwait's oil exports shift from crude oil to petroleum products

Published by , Editorial Assistant
Hydrocarbon Engineering,

Kuwait’s oil exports are shifting from crude oil to refined petroleum products following the addition of new refining capacity, according to data from the EIA's Country Analysis Brief: Kuwait.

In June and July 2023, Kuwait exported more than 1 million bpd of petroleum products and liquified petroleum gas, the highest volume of products the country has exported. By contrast, crude oil exports averaged about 1.6 million bpd in June and July 2023, down from an average of 1.8 million bpd in the same period of 2022.

As of July 2023, refineries in Kuwait had the capacity to process 1.4 million bpd of crude oil, more than double the refinery capacity in January 2021 of 600 000 bpd. The increase in capacity comes from the new Al Zour refinery and an expansion project at existing refineries over the past two years. Kuwait’s new Al Zour refinery is the Middle East’s largest with a capacity of 615 000 bpd among three units. The plant’s first crude oil distillation unit came on line in November 2022, followed by the second in March 2023 and the third in July 2023. The Al Zour refinery can produce significant amounts of low-sulfur fuel oil, around 220 000 bpd at full capacity.

In late 2021, national refining company Kuwait National Petroleum Corp. (KNPC) completed its Clean Fuels Project (CFP). The CFP upgraded and integrated the company’s Mina Al-Ahmadi and Mina Abdullah refineries to be able to process petroleum products with low levels of sulfur and nitrogen oxide. The upgrade allowed production of fuels that meet the Euro 4 and 5 standards for products with lower emissions. The CFP increased Kuwait’s crude oil refining capacity by around 60 000 bpd.

Kuwait’s crude oil exports fell from an average of 1.9 million bpd in 2022 to less than 1.8 million bpd for the first 7 months of 2023. By July 2023, crude oil exports dipped to 1.5 million bpd, according to Kpler tanker tracking service.

In July 2023, Asia remained the top destination for Kuwait’s petroleum product exports, receiving 46%. However, Europe received 29% in July 2023, up significantly from 2021. In July 2021, Europe received 11% of Kuwait’s petroleum product exports. Increased exports to Europe resulted from Europe’s ban on imports from Russia as EU countries look to replace diesel and other products that they used to receive from Russia.

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