Chinese diesel to be shipped to 'west' in VLCC: sources

SINGAPORE/LONDON (Reuters) - In a rare shipment, a diesel cargo will be loaded into a very large crude carrier (VLCC) from a refinery at China’s Tianjin port next month before heading to Europe or West Africa.

The newly-built ‘Maran Aphrodite’, which can carry about 285,000 tonnes of diesel, has been chartered by oil major Total to load from Chinese state-run giant Sinopec’s refinery in the northern port to head “west”, two people familiar with the matter said.

This is the second time a VLCC will load with diesel from the Chinese refinery, one of the people said. The first cargo was shipped late last year as part of a plan by Unipec - the trading arm of Sinopec - to expand in Europe.

Total and Unipec could not immediately be reached for comment.

The ‘Maran Aphrodite’ could either head to West Africa or Europe depending on economics and is yet to secure a buyer for the cargo, the people said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak with media.

The vessel is currently doing sea trials at South Korea’s Okpo port, Thomson Reuters Eikon shiptracking data showed on Tuesday.

Unipec, which markets most of the refinery’s diesel cargoes, will load the VLCC with 10 parts per million (ppm) sulphur, which will meet Europe’s summer specifications, the sources said.

With Chinese refineries maximizing production of 10ppm sulphur diesel to meet newly introduced domestic fuel quality standards, exports of diesel are increasingly also becoming higher-grade.

This could potentially mean more Chinese cargoes could be shipped to Europe, which typically has more stringent fuel standards compared with Asia, traders said.

Reporting by Jessica Jaganathan in SINGAPORE and Ron Bousso in LONDON; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell