Saudi crude exports to its five key markets, Japan, China, the US, South Korea and India, edged down 2% in 2017. Though this is a more modest dip than the 4% fall to 9.97mn b/d in the country’s crude output and the 9% fall to 6.96mn b/d for Saudi Arabia’s overall crude exports, the kingdom has still seen volumes fall in three of its top five markets (see chart 1).

Saudi crude exports fell to the lowest level since 2010 in 2017 as the country not only cut crude production but...