June 7 (UPI) -- Though markets remained somewhat constrained, Dutch commodity trader Trafigura said oil and petroleum product sales were up 25 percent.
In an interim report for the period ending March 31, the Dutch company said demand for crude oil and refined products was strong, especially in the Asian economies characterized by strong growth and momentum.
"We maintained our leading role in exporting crude oil and refined products from the shale fields of the United States and built significant incremental sales to China and India, but the volume growth was global, affecting all our product desks and regions," CEO Jeremy Weir said in a statement.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration put the four-week moving average for crude oil exports at 927,000 barrels per day, more than double the average for the same period last year. U.S. shale is becoming competitive in the Asian market because it trades at a discount to rival benchmark oils in the region, like the Persian Gulf's Dubai crude.
U.S. crude oil production, meanwhile, remains robust as operations in shale basins become more resilient to weaker oil prices as efficiencies improve. The four-week moving average for total U.S. oil production of 9.3 million barrels per day is up 6.2 percent from the same period last year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Though Trafigura was able to respond with increased sale volumes, the company said the market for crude oil was still under pressure and in "chronic oversupply." As a result, the company's gross profit for the sale of oil and petroleum products was down 17 percent.
"A fall in gross profit in our oil and petroleum products trading division was more than offset by a sharp increase in gross profit from the metals and minerals trading division," Weir said.
Vandana Hari, an industry analyst for Vanda Insights, told UPI that, even though markets are somewhat improved over 2016, it's still tough for a company like Trafigura to turn in good numbers. With the Asian economies outperforming their peers, it makes sense to focus efforts there.
"But even Asian demand growth is not what it used to be, especially with China's booming appetite for oil a thing of the past," she said.
Metals and mineral volume rose for Trafigura by 37 percent, compared with a 25 percent year-over-year increase for oil and petroleum products. Gross profit for the company of 1.2 million was an increase of 6 percent from the first half of 2016.