... thirty-two years on since Iraqi flows to the U.S. surpassed those from Saudi [for a five-month period], we are about to take a trip back to the future. Again, the issue is twofold: Saudi crude flows to the U.S. have been dropping considerably in recent months (discussed on CNBC this week here), as Saudi has made a conscious effort to reduce flows to the largest and most transparent global market - as it aims to get the most bang for its buck from cutting exports.
At the same time, crude flows from the southern Iraqi port of Basra have shown little (well, no) impact from the OPEC production cut deal, with export volumes continuing to flow as usual.
As Saudi deliveries drop, and as the U.S. leans increasingly on Iraqi barrels -- ironically, to likely replace lower Saudi flows -- Iraqi barrels are gaining the ascendancy once again.
See the Oil Price report at their website for graphs on U.S. imports of Saudi and Iraqi crude.
So what does it all mean? It means that Al Saud remains stuck between a rock and a hard place since it began to deploy tactics to prop up the price of oil and drive U.S. shale oil producers out of business. Every move the Saudis make to prop up the benchmark oil price is met by circumstances that work against this.