June 29, 2015 / 7:20 AM / 4 years ago

U.S. light oil exports double in May, mostly to Europe

* U.S. condensate exports rise to about 120,000 bpd
    * Bulk of U.S. oil heads to Europe

    By Catherine Ngai and Florence Tan
    NEW YORK, June 29 (Reuters) - U.S. exports of ultra-light
crude, also known as condensate, have doubled since the start of
the year, with most shipments headed to Europe, according to
traders familiar with the deals and data from an energy
    The United States exported between 120,000 and 140,000
barrels per day (bpd) of condensate last month, according to
traders and ClipperData, which tracks ships and terminal
loadings, up from about 60,000 bpd at the start of the year.
    The condensate is lightly processed through stabilizers due
to rules banning crude exports in the United States, now the
world's third-largest oil producer. 
    The rise comes as more companies look to take advantage of
the ability to ship the oil overseas, including to places like
the Netherlands, France, South Korea and Brazil. 
    "One of the main surprises is that the majority of the
exports have been to Europe rather than anywhere else, when we
thought the concentration would be to Asian markets," said Abudi
Zein, chief operating officer at ClipperData, adding this was
probably to do with the size of the cargoes and freight costs. 
    Traders have also said that the oil's quality deterred some
Asian refiners.  
    Enterprise Products Partners led the pack with 1.8
million barrels of exports per month, or 60,000 bpd. It sold a
year's supply to Mitsubishi Corp and Vitol 
at the start of this year. 
    BHP Billiton has been selling a 700,000-barrel
cargo every month, though has delayed a plan to double exports
to two cargoes a month due to production issues, traders said. 
    BP started exports in February and also shipped out a
cargo in April, said a trader who tracks the movement of U.S.
condensate. It had another cargo due to load at the end of June
which will head to Europe.
    BHP and BP did not respond to requests for comment.     
    Meanwhile, in the first condensate shipment to Latin
America, some 636,000 barrels reached Petrobras' San Sebastiao
dock in May, according to data from ClipperData and trading
    The oil exported by Enterprise, BHP and BP is of a heavier
grade with API gravity at 52-54 degrees, which goes to Europe,
traders said. API gravity is an indicator of the crude's density
and hence its quality.
    Asian refiners prefer lighter grades of API with a gravity
of 61 degrees containing more petrochemical feedstock.
    This grade is exported by Royal Dutch Shell, Plains
All American LP and Trafigura.
 Company                  Monthly export programs
                          ('000 bbls)
 BHP                      700
 Enterprise               1800
 Plains All American      300
 Shell                    300-500
 BP*                      300-500
 *exports one cargo every alternate month
    Source: Trade

 (Editing by Ed Davies)
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