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Coastal grades ease as Cushing oil stocks tick up

(Reuters) -U.S. Gulf Coast crude oil grades mostly eased on Thursday as the Cushing, Oklahoma oil storage hub grew, dealers said.

FILE PHOTO: Crude oil storage tanks are seen in an aerial photograph at the Cushing oil hub in Cushing, Oklahoma, U.S. April 21, 2020. REUTERS/Drone Base

Light Louisiana Sweet crude and Mars Sour crude, both coastal grades, eased slightly despite a wider spread between U.S. futures and international Brent oil futures. A wider spread typically makes coastal grades more attractive to international buyers.

Crude oil in storage at the Cushing, Oklahoma delivery hub grew by 133,959 barrels to roughly 40 million barrels in the week ended April 6, traders said, citing data from market intelligence firm Genscape.

The fate of the Dakota Access pipeline could be decided at a U.S. court hearing Friday, where federal regulators could set in motion a months-long shutdown of the line while the Biden Administration completes an environmental review.

The market has been increasingly worried about a possible shutdown, which could impact crude oil grades from the Bakken region of North Dakota and Canada as the White House aims to reduce the nation’s reliance on fossil fuels and address concerns of minority communities harmed by carbon emissions.

In refining, the crude distillation unit (CDU) was operating at minimum production levels on Thursday morning at Royal Dutch Shell Plc’s 227,400 barrel-per-day Norco, Louisiana, refinery, said sources familiar with plant operations.

Most of the other production units at the refinery remained shut following a Wednesday afternoon loss of three steam boilers at the refinery, the sources said.

* Light Louisiana Sweet for May delivery fell 5 cents to a midpoint of $1.95 and traded between a $1.90 and $2.00 a barrel premium to U.S. crude futures.

* Mars Sour fell 5 cents to a midpoint of 25 cents and traded between a 15-cent and 35-cent a barrel premium to U.S. crude futures.

* WTI Midland rose 5 cents to a midpoint of a 40-cent premium and traded between a 20-cent and 60-cent a barrel premium to U.S. crude futures.

* West Texas Sour rose 10 cents to a midpoint of 60 cents and traded between a 40-cent and 80-cent a barrel discount to U.S. crude futures.

* WTI at East Houston, also known as MEH, traded between 85 cents and $1.05 over WTI.

* ICE Brent June futures rose 4 cents to settle at $63.20 a barrel.

* WTI May crude futures remained unchanged to settle at $59.60 a barrel.

* The Brent/WTI spread widened 22 cents to settle at minus $3.57, after hitting a high of minus $3.32 and a low of minus $3.62.

Reporting by Laila Kearney in New York; Editing by Christopher Cushing

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