* Around 200,000 tonnes booked in recent weeks
* U.S. East Coast typically imports distillates
* Low imports, refinery maintenance boost European prices
By Ron Bousso and Jarrett Renshaw
LONDON/NEW YORK, April 26 U.S. East Coast
refineries are stepping up exports of diesel despite a regional
deficit of the fuel as strong overseas demand, particularly in
Europe, is proving more profitable.
Two tankers carrying 60,000-tonne cargoes of diesel have
been booked in recent days out of New York Harbor to go to
Northwest Europe, traders said.
The two vessels, River Shiner and Two Million Ways, were
chartered by Swiss-based trading house Trafigura and
will load fuel sold by Delta Air Lines Inc's refiner
subsidiary Monroe Energy, near Philadelphia.
They are expected to top up their cargo in New York before
sailing to Europe, an East Coast trader said.
The BP-chartered, 37,000-tonne Arctic Breeze is
nearing its destination - Sete port in southern France - after
loading a diesel cargo this month at the Kinder Morgan
terminal in New York, according to traders and Reuters shipping
At least one other 37,000-tonne tanker has been booked on
the transatlantic route, traders said.
U.S. Gulf Coast refineries have become a powerhouse of
distillate exports amid a rise in demand from Latin America and
West Africa due to refinery outages there.
While Europe historically relies on a steady stream of
diesel from the U.S. Gulf Coast, the rise in competition has led
to a marked drop in that region's diesel exports to Europe.
The U.S. East Coast typically imports middle distillates,
including diesel and heating oil, to meet regional demand. Over
the past year, the region imported an average of around 180,000
barrels per day of distillates, according to the U.S.
government's Energy Information Administration.
Although it is not unusual to see exports of heating oil
from the East Coast during the warmer summer months, diesel
exports are more rare.
European diesel refining margins LGO-LCO1=R have risen in
recent weeks as imports from the U.S. Gulf Coast, Asia and the
Middle East slowed due to seasonal refinery maintenance.
At the same time, high refinery maintenance in Europe,
particularly inland markets such as Germany, has led to lower
(Editing by Dale Hudson)