crude, oil
An employee looks out across oil pipes used for landing and unloading crude and refined oil at the North Pier Terminal, operated by Saudi Aramco, in Ras Tanura, Saudi Arabia. Image Credit: Bloomberg

Riyadh: Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, hiked June pricing for all crude grades to Asia just as the region scrambles for replacement barrels to make up for a supply shortfall.

The kingdom raised its official selling price of Arab Light crude for June to the biggest premium to Middle East benchmark prices in 11 months, increasing the cost of its flagship grade to Asia by more than traders had forecast. The price of Arab Medium crude was set at the highest since December 2013, while Arab Heavy was priced at the most in more than six years.

The spike in prices for Asian buyers comes as refiners across the top oil-importing region seek more Saudi Arabian crude for June and July loading after the expiration of US-issued waivers permitting imports of Iranian oil. A fall in supplies from Iran — coupled with declining exports from Venezuela and outages across Africa — are creating a sellers’ market, handing crude producers the upper hand in negotiations and sales.