U.S. imports of Kazakh crude tumble after Russia's Ukraine invasion

HOUSTON, Oct 5 (Reuters) - U.S. imports of Kazakhstan crude have dropped two-thirds since February, a Reuters analysis of U.S. Customs data showed, a decline spurred by pipeline and terminal outages and worries about the status of exports from a Russian port.

The decline highlights the changing oil flows since Russia's invasion of Ukraine. U.S. buyers imported about 4.3 million barrels of Kazakhstan's CPC Blend, down from 13.2 million in the same period a year ago. Refiners increased purchases of Middle East crude, particularly Basra Medium, as CPC fell.

Traders initially this year shunned CPC oil out of fear that loadings from Russia's Novorossiysk port might be barred. They were not, but terminal equipment repairs, oilfield and pipeline maintenances have cut shipments and volumes.

Chevron, which owns a 50% stake in Kazakh oil producer Tengizchevroil, PBF Energy's (PBF.N) Delaware City refinery and Valero have purchased CPC crude since the Ukraine crisis. PBF has not, however, received any cargoes since May.

Chevron and PBF did not immediately reply to requests for comment.

Chios, a Greek-flagged vessel chartered by Chevron, loaded CPC crude at Novorossiysk and was signaling discharge this month at El Segundo, California, according to Refinitiv Eikon vessel tracking data. Chevron operates a refinery there.

Aristofanis was the latest vessel to discharge CPC crude in the United States, according to U.S. customs data. The Marshall Islands-flagged tanker was chartered by Valero Energy (VLO.N) and discharged crude at Long Beach and Benicia in California.

Aigeorgis, another Valero-chartered vessel that according to Refinitiv Eikon is carrying CPC Blend crude, also signaled Benicia as its destination. It has been anchored off the southern California coast for about three weeks.

Valero and CPC Pipeline Consortium did not reply to a request for comment.

U.S. authorities in June allowed an oil tanker traveling from Russia to New Orleans to unload after checking whether the cargo was Russian. A source familiar with the matter had said the shipment was of Kazakh oil products.

Reporting by Arathy Somasekhar in Houston; Editing by Josie Kao

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