*For well over a decade Saudi Arabia had been the unrivalled number one crude and condensate supplier to Japan. Saudi market share climbed above 30% in 2011 and rose steadily to hit 40% in 2017, dipping only modestly to 38.1% for 2018. The UAE (almost all Abu Dhabi) was a distant number two for all of this period (see chart 1).

*Last year’s 1.164mn b/d imports from Saudi Arabia were also enough to make Japan the number one Saudi crude customer for the 4th straight year. Before this...