March 1, 2019: the Amad has reached South Korea. Meanwhile, the Abqaiq must be out at sea; we have had not updates since February 19, 2019, which is typical once the ships are out at sea (unless one wants to pay for the satellite information -- and I don't).
February 25, 2019: Bloomberg has almost exactly the same story -- an op-ed -- as the story linked in the February 23, 2019, note (below) but with a few more details about "heavy vs light."
February 23, 2019: one wonders what the Abqaiq might be doing. LOL. This story might explain some things:
They are slowly plowing their way across thousands of miles of ocean toward America’s Gulf of Mexico coastline. As they do, twelve empty supertankers are also revealing a few truths about today’s global oil market.
In normal times, the vessels would be filled with heavy, high sulfur Middle East oil for delivery to refineries in places like Houston or New Orleans. Not now though. They are sailing cargo-less, a practice that vessel owners normally try to avoid because ships earn money by making deliveries.
The 12 vessels are making voyages of as much as 21,000 miles direct from Asia, all the way around South Africa, holding nothing but seawater for stability because Middle East producers are restricting supplies. Still, America’s booming volumes of light crude must still be exported, and there aren’t enough supertankers in the Atlantic Ocean for the job. So they’re coming empty.
“What’s driving this is a U.S. oil market that’s looking relatively bearish with domestic production estimates trending higher, and persistent crude oil builds we have seen for the last few weeks,” said Warren Patterson, head of commodities strategy at ING Bank NV in Amsterdam.
“At the same time, OPEC cuts are supporting international grades like Brent, creating an export incentive.”The U.S. both exports and imports large amounts of crude because the variety it pumps -- especially newer supplies from shale formations -- is very different from the type that’s found in the Middle East. OPEC members are likely cutting heavier grades while American exports are predominantly lighter, Patterson said.
Amad (link here): within a few days of its destination, South Korea.
Abqaiq (link here): this tanker departed Saudi Arabia half-ful with crude oil destined for Venezuela. Venezuela needs foreign oil to dilute its very heavy oil so that it can be used in its own refineries. It appears that Saudi Arabia may have provided them that oil. Or it's also possible, Saudi Arabia topped off the tanker with Venezuelan oil and is now on its way to South Africa.
With regard to the Abqaiq, perhaps this is a related story from The WSJ today:
Venezuelan oil supplies hit five-year high as buyers become elusive. U.S. sanctions, announced January 28, 2019, are stifling crude sales and could continue to drive up oil prices.A lot of extraordinary graphs at the linked site. Archived.
Last week, Venezuelan crude inventories reached 32.8 million barrels, a record high in data going back to January 2014 .