Desperately seeking refiners

Hundreds of thousands of barrels of Saudi Arabian crude is on tankers, circling the globe in search of buyers, according to the Kingdom’s ambassador to the United States, Prince Turki al-Faisal.
With oil’s benchmark price trading above $72 today, implying short supplies, it would seem the crude would be in high demand. Instead, Saudi Arabia’s oil storage appears to be busting at the seams.
The ambassador told an audience at the U.S. Arab Economic Forum in Houston that between 300,000 and 400,000 barrels of heavy crude has been pulled from the ground, but the stuff is hard to refine. Around the world, facilities that can handle heavy crudes are already maxed out. He later confirmed much of that oil is stranded on the high seas.
The situation illustrates Saudi Arabia’s insistance that it is doing everything it can to try to quell oil prices, but the market is out of its hands.
The world’s refiners only have excess room to run lighter crudes. That high demand, coupled with the fact that it’s easier to turn light crude into fuels like gasoline and diesel, continue to drive oil prices up even though there’s plenty of the heavier stuff.
So, how long can Saudi oil sail around in search of a buyer? “As long as there is no customer,” Turki Al-Faisal said.