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“Asian premium” or “North Atlantic discount”: Does geographical diversification in oil trade always impose costs?

Nader AlKathiri, Al-Rashed, Yazeed, Tilak K. Doshi and Frederic H. Murphy

Energy Economics, 2017, vol. 66, issue C, 411-420

Abstract: We develop a Global Oil Trade Model (GOTM) to examine the ability of large crude oil exporters or importers to influence inter-regional price differentials by allocating their sales or purchases respectively among different crude oil consuming or producing regions. The model is based on the trade-offs among freight costs, qualities of the crude oils traded and the technical configurations of refineries that process the crude oil. Our reference case (based on 2012 data) minimizes the sum of freight costs and the costs of processing sub-optimal grades of crude oil at a refinery. We model a large Middle East exporter allocating its supply regionally as the leader in a Stackelberg game where all other producers and importers are price takers on the competitive fringe. We then examine the ability of a coalition of importers in Asia to make countervailing strategic purchases rather than act as a price taker. We find that large sellers can increase their revenues while diversifying their customer base by allocating volumes to more distant markets if, by doing so, they capture locational rents from more proximate buyers. Large buyers are unable to reduce their costs compared to the competitive market outcome by adopting countervailing purchase strategies but have the potential to disrupt the rent-seeking of large sellers.

Keywords: Asian premium; Stackelberg game; MPEC; Oil market modeling; Oil trade flows (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: L1 L2 L71 Q4 Q48 C72 C61 C62 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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