* South Korea's GS Caltex, Japan's Cosmo Oil buy one cargo
each - sources
* US oil exports to benefit energy-deficit allies in Asia -
(Adds quotes, details)
By Florence Tan and Meeyoung Cho
SINGAPORE/SEOUL, July 24 South Korea and Japan
have purchased the first condensate, or ultra-light oil, from
the United States since the easing of a 40-year-old ban on U.S.
crude oil exports, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters
The U.S. has recently softened a total ban on crude oil
exports in place since the Arab oil embargo of the 1970s,
allowing energy companies to export a variety of ultra-light oil
if it has been minimally refined. Refined products, such as
gasoline and diesel, are not restricted.
The relaxation of the ban coincides with a resurgence in
domestic shale oil and gas production as the U.S. seeks to
assure energy importers in Europe and Asia of alternative
sources of supply. Energy hungry nations, grappling with
disruption fears as geopolitical crises in Eastern Europe and
the Middle East deepen, would welcome steady shipments of oil
and gas from a stable exporter such as the U.S.
"It means very little in itself, but because of current
events it takes on a more political or symbolic importance,"
said Alex Yap, a senior oil analyst at FGE.
"If the U.S. wants its allies to be less dependent on the
likes of Russia and Iran, it has to show some willingness to
step up as a supplier instead of keeping the bounty from shale
production within its own market."
South Korean oil refiner GS Caltex has bought a condensate
cargo to be loaded in late July, three industry sources with
knowledge of the matter said. They declined to be identified due
to the sensitivity of the matter.
The cargo was marketed by Japanese trading house Mitsui & Co
Ltd, which had bought it from Enterprise Product
GS Caltex declined to comment.
South Korea's second-largest refiner with a capacity of
775,000 barrels per day (bpd) is equally owned by the No.2 U.S.
oil company Chevron Corp and South Korea's GS Energy, a
unit of GS Holdings.
Japanese refiner Cosmo Oil Co has also bought a
cargo of U.S. condensate, an industry source familiar with the
matter said earlier on Thursday.
The 300,000-barrel cargo will be loaded in August, and is
set to arrive at Cosmo's 112,000 bpd Yokkaichi refinery in early
October, the source said.
The cargo was priced at a few dollars a barrel discount to
the similar Middle Eastern grades, the source added.
(Reporting by Florence Tan in SINGAPORE, Meeyoung Cho in SEOUL
and Osamu Tsukimori in TOKYO; Editing by Ryan Woo)