(Reuters) - A sales push by Saudi Arabia into north Europe's refineries, a step into rival Russia's backyard,piles fresh pressure on oil prices already struggling against oversupply.
Stung by Russia's success in supplanting it in the giant Chinese market, Riyadh has embarked on a charm offensive in Europe, cutting its prices for December by more than it has in any other region to their lowest since 2009 during the financial crisis.
Saudi Arabian barrels rarely venture north of the Mediterranean, into the home turf for Russian, African and North Sea crudes. As a result, the kingdom's success in luring away buyers of rival Russian Urals crude in Poland and Sweden is having an outsized knock-on impact on the market for a wide range of other crudes in the region.
Refiners averted a price drop from a similar build up of surplus oil in spring, snapping up cheaper crude to feed a surge in gasoline demand.
But this time there is a glut of refined fuel too. The crude surplus is matched by an overhang in oil products which means refineries will not be able to come to the rescue by absorbing the extra.
"The first half of next year looks like a distinctly dangerous period for oil bulls," brokers PVM Chief Executive David Hufton said in a note.
"It could be the period when tank tops are reached, leading to a price meltdown."
charm offensive是由charm（人的魅力、親和力）與offensive（攻勢）組成，意思是奉承、以甜言蜜語勸誘他人，或對他人友善，以贏得他人的好感。這個短語最早出現在1956年10月美國加州報紙「佛雷斯諾蜂共和報」，原句是[General Alfred M.] Gruenther warned, though, that after the "launching of the Russian charm offensive, there is a danger of the democracies relaxing their vigilance."（不過，葛倫特將軍警告，「在俄國發動柔性攻勢後，民主國家可能會放鬆戒備」。）