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U.S. oil sent to Israeli refineries

Dutch oil trader Trifigura says doors for U.S. crude may be opening overseas.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |   Feb. 24, 2016 at 9:13 AM
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AMSTERDAM, Netherlands, Feb. 24 (UPI) -- Dutch oil trader Trafigura confirmed it delivered a cargo of crude oil sourced from U.S. basins to Israeli refineries in an early start for U.S. oil deliveries.

Trading company Vitol, which has headquarters in Switzerland, scheduled the loading of 600,000 barrels of light crude oil from a Houston shipping terminal with the help of Enterprise Product Partners during the first week of January. It was the first such shipment in roughly 40 years.

The White House in November signed off on a $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill that included language that, with certain provisions, lifted a 40-year ban on the export of crude oil produced in the United States.

Ben Luckock, head of crude oil for Trafigura, said in response to email questions an avenue seems to be opening to overseas refineries looking to cheaper U.S. crude.

"Trafigura has sold prompt loading West Texas Intermediate to the Israeli refining system," he said. "We believe a number of vessels of WTI crude oil have recently been fixed to Europe."

WTI refers to a grade that serves as the benchmark price for U.S. oil. WTI was trading near $30 per barrel early Wednesday, about 18 percent lower than when the first batch of U.S. crude left port in late December.

With crude oil prices hovering near $30 per barrel, a report from the Congressional Budget Office finds authorizing U.S. crude oil exports could increase the price of U.S. crude oil by around $2.50 per barrel during a period ending in 2025. The non-partisan Congressional Research Service, however, found some overseas refineries aren't designed to handle the lighter oils from the United States.

WTI held a brief premium against Brent in late December as the first cargo of U.S. crude oil was loaded for exports. The White House last year said the United States was already exporting around 4 million barrels per day in the form of refined petroleum products and had waivers in place to export 500,000 bpd of conventional crude oil before the ban was lifted.

Data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration show about 399,000 barrels of oil per day left the U.S. market last week. That's down about 20 percent from last year.

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