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The Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP) said on Sunday that it had successfully loaded the first Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC) with U.S. oil bound for export in what could be a game-changer for U.S. crude oil sales overseas.
The U.S. has already exported crude oil in supertankers, but because all U.S. ports except for LOOP are too shallow for the very large tankers, smaller tankers have had to make multiple short voyages to the supertankers to load them while they dock offshore.
“There could not be a better time to offer this service as domestic production surpasses 10 million barrels per day in the ever-dynamic global crude oil market,” Tom Shaw, LOOP president, said in a statement.
“The new onloading configuration was accomplished with only minor modifications to existing facilities and is scalable to meet the changing needs of the industry,” Shaw added.
According to LOOP, Houston-based Shell Trading Company US (STUSCO) was the shipper of record for this cargo.
The supertanker that was fully loaded at LOOP—the Shaden—is owned by National Shipping Co. of Saudi Arabia and is heading to the Chinese port of Rizhao, according to shipping data collected by Bloomberg.
According to traders who spoke to Bloomberg, the supertanker is unlikely to carry shale oil, rather it is more likely to be shipping a mix of crude grades produced in the Gulf of Mexico.
Since the U.S. lifted restrictions on oil exports in late 2015, American crude exports surged and many countries have received U.S. oil cargoes, including China, and more recently—even the United Arab Emirates (UAE), in a historic shipment of U.S. condensate to the Middle East.
Along with U.S. exports, U.S. production is also growing, and in the first two weeks of February it surpassed 10 million bpd, EIA data shows.
Earlier this month, the EIA said in its Annual Energy Outlook that the United States would become a net oil and gas exporter by 2022.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.