With the Brent premium over the WTI price rising to US$2.50 per barrel on Tuesday – the most in six months – oil traders hastened to procure Europe-bound vessels from the U.S. Gulf coast to take advantage of this rare arbitrage window.
At the time of writing, the WTI Crude was US$47.09, up 0.64 percent, while the Brent price was US$49.83, down 0.04 percent.
Oil trading groups Astra Transcor Energy and Vitol have secured one vessel each to export crude from the U.S. to the U.K. or the Mediterranean, Reuters reported, citing two sources in the know and Thomson Reuters shipping data.
Astra Transcor Energy will be shipping Canadian crude from Houston, and Vitol has secured a cargo from the U.S. Gulf, Reuters reports, adding that Astra could not be reached for comment and Vitol declined to comment on the report.
U.S. crude exports are expected to increase in the next few weeks because oil taken offline in West Africa raises demand, according to consultancy firm Energy Aspects, as quoted by Reuters. Energy Aspects commented that upwards of 10 million barrels of oil are reportedly to leave U.S. ports within a month’s time, with the bulk en route to the Mediterranean and northwest Europe.
The Astra and Vitol cargoes are expected to be one of the notable exports of U.S. crude to Europe since the United States lifted in December 2015 a four-decade-old restriction on crude exports.
Due to the restriction, Canada was the U.S.’s main crude export destination for years.
In March 2016 – just one quarter after the restrictions were lifted – crude exports to countries other than Canada exceeded exports to Canada for first time since April 2000.
Though the growth of the volume of crude oil exports has fallen since the trade-policy shift, the total number of countries buying energy supplies from the U.S. has climbed sharply. So far this year, American suppliers have done business with 16 different countries – six more than in 2015 and twice as many as in 2014.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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