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A tanker loaded with around 514,000 barrels of oil has set sail from Vancouver en route to China in what is the largest shipment of oil from the Canadian port to the world’s top oil importer since 2015, according to Thomson Reuters trade flow data.
The Serene Sea Aframax tanker was loaded at Kinder Morgan’s Westridge Marine Terminal in Vancouver and set sail on July 4 toward the southern Chinese province of Guangdong, where it is expected to arrive on July 26. This latest shipment would bring Canada’s oil exports to China to 16,600 bpd for the month of July, Thomson Reuters data show.
Canadian oil shipments to China and to Asia are a rare sight, also because oil-rich but landlocked Alberta doesn’t have enough pipeline capacity to the West Coast. Most of the crude oil shipped out of Vancouver is being delivered to the U.S. West Coast.
But in recent months, oil shipments out of Vancouver to Asia have picked up, and tankers have departed to China, South Korea, and Thailand, according to Thomson Reuters data.
In April, the Solomon Sea oil tanker and the Diva oil tanker departed from Vancouver for ports in Thailand and South Korea, and eastern China, respectively. Thomson Reuters flows show that the two tankers carried a combined 742,000 barrels of crude oil to Asian customers.
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“There is an opportunity for Canada to send material to China, but I don’t think demand is going to be overwhelming,” Thomas Finlon, director of Energy Analytics Group, told Reuters, commenting on Canada’s current chances of attracting Asian buyers now that the Brent Crude-WTI Crude spread has narrowed to around $5 a barrel and there’s less call for U.S. crude.
Earlier this year, Canada took a step toward ensuring that its oil would have an export outlet to the world’s fastest-growing energy market, Asia. Analysts believe that the federal government stepping in to save the Trans Mountain expansion project has boosted the chances that the pipeline will be built and give Canada an export outlet from the Pacific Coast to the Asian markets.
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.