(Adds statement from Mercuria)
By Catherine Ngai, Liz Hampton and Florence Tan
NEW YORK, April 26 The first ever reported
export of North Dakota's crude oil to Asia left port last month,
according to a shipping document seen by Reuters on Wednesday,
in what is expected to be the first of numerous cargoes once the
key Dakota Access pipeline starts moving oil in May.
Swiss-based Mercuria Energy Trading S.A. loaded more than
600,000 barrels of Bakken crude, as well as some Mars Sour crude
and DSW crude, in late March off the coast of Louisiana onto the
very large crude carrier (VLCC) Maran Canopus, destined for
Singapore, according to the bill of loading and ship tracking
The burgeoning appetite for U.S. crude among Asian refiners
could be a boon for Bakken crude, especially when the Dakota
pipeline starts up. That line can carry 470,000 barrels per day
of oil from North Dakota's Bakken play to the Gulf, the starting
point for the lion's share of U.S. oil exports.
At least two Asian refiners told Reuters that they are
interested in Bakken light crude because of the products it can
yield through refining.
"There seems to be increasing demand for light quality crude
in Asia," said Michael Cohen, head of energy commodities
research at Barclays. "I think with Dakota Access coming online,
it makes the pipeline route from the Bakken to the Gulf Coast
A representative from Mercuria said the company was "excited
to offer new crude grades to our customers in Asia.
With the start of Dakota Access (DAPL), Bakken producers
such as Hess Corp and Continental Resources for
the first time will have a direct route to export terminals on
the Gulf Coast, better connecting them to international markets.
A year ago, Hess Corp sold Bakken crude out of the
U.S. Gulf to Europe, the first reported export of the light
North Dakota oil since Congress lifted the ban on exporting
crude in 2015.
"As DAPL opens up supply of Bakken crude to the U.S. Gulf
Coast, we are looking at potential exports to customers in South
America, Europe and Asia," said Lorrie Hecker, a spokeswoman for
Continental Resources declined to comment.
While new exports of Bakken could be a boon for North Dakota
producers, they will also dump more U.S. crude into the global
oil market at a time when OPEC and non-OPEC countries are
seeking to lower worldwide inventories.
U.S. production has increased by nearly 500,000 barrels a
day so far in 2017, with current production of about 9.3 million
bpd, per U.S. Energy Department figures.
The Maran Canopus supertanker took oil in a ship-to-ship
transfer from smaller Aframax vessels on five different
occasions, according to data on Thomson Reuters Eikon. It left
the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port for Singapore on March 29 at 96
(Reporting by Catherine Ngai in New York; Liz Hampton in
Houston; Florence Tan in Singapore; Editing by Marguerita Choy
and Chizu Nomiyama)