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Abu Dhabi Eases Restrictions On Qatar Imports, Exports

Port authorities in Abu Dhabi have eased some of the restrictions they had imposed on oil loading vessels voyaging to and from Qatar, removing the restrictions on non-Qatar operated, owned, or flagged tankers, according to shipping circulars seen by Reuters on Wednesday.

Abu Dhabi Petroleum Ports Authority, however, keeps the ban on Qatar-owned, flagged, or operated oil tankers in place.

At the beginning of this week, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE, Egypt, Yemen, and Libya severed diplomatic ties with Qatar, accusing it of sponsoring terrorism and destabilizing the region.

Following the diplomatic isolation of Qatar, port authorities in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain barred Qatar-flag or owned vessels, as well as Qatar-bound or Qatar-origin tankers, from calling at their ports, thus making crude and oil product loadings in the Persian Gulf more complicated, and making large oil importers change loading plans.

In the early hours of the port restrictions, large oil buyers did not want to take chances, and would rather swap cargoes than doing the typical co-loading of crude from Qatar and other Middle Eastern producers in one VLCC capable of carrying up to 2 million barrels of oil. Confusion took hold among the shipping companies, and executives and VLCC brokers told Platts that they hoped the deadlock would be resolved in a week.

With Abu Dhabi reportedly easing the restrictions, barring only Qatar-flagged, owned, or operated tankers, direct shipping could be made between Qatar and Abu Dhabi if the vessels are not owned, flagged, or operated by Qatar, and co-loading of crude oil cargoes would be possible, a shipbroker based in Singapore told Reuters today.

Since there aren’t that many Qatar-owned or flagged tankers, the new Abu Dhabi circular would not have as big of an impact on the crude loading and co-loading market and trade as the previous tighter restrictions, according to the shipbroker who spoke to Reuters.

According to Thomson Reuters Eikon shipping data, two VLCCs successfully loaded Abu Dhabi grades on Wednesday, despite having previously loaded Qatari crude and condensate from Qatar ports before calling at Abu Dhabi.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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