Conoco Books Shipment of Libyan Oil to U.S., Shipbrokers Say
ConocoPhillips (COP) booked an oil tanker to haul Libyan crude to the U.S. as the North African country boosts output following the overthrow of Muammar Qaddafi last year, data from shipbrokers including Poten & Partners show.
The Donat, a 1 million-barrel carrier owned by Zadar, Croatia-based Tankerska Plovidba (TNPLRA) DD, was hired to load 135,000 metric tons of crude on Jan. 31 and sail to the U.S. Gulf Coast, data from New York-based Poten show. The shipment is the first of its kind since September when the holder of Africa’s largest oil reserves began resuming seaborne exports, according to the broker’s lists of tanker charters on Bloomberg.
The absence of Libyan production helped crude traded in London reach a 2011 high of $127.02 a barrel in April. The benchmark Brent grade has since dropped 12 percent to $111.25. The resumption of the nation’s supply comes as Iran threatens to block the Strait of Hormuz, renewing concern about global oil supply.
“For Conoco and other U.S. oil companies, increased access to Libyan crude would be very helpful as new trade relationships are being built,” Samuel Ciszuk, an oil consultant at KBC Energy Economics in Walton-on-Thames, England, said by phone yesterday. “This is another sign of how fast Libya, one of the world’s biggest suppliers, is returning to the market.”
Libya boosted shipments to 800,000 barrels a day in December, compared with 555,000 a month before and 1.3 million barrels before last year’s uprising disrupted exports, the International Energy Agency said in a report Jan. 18. Normal production will resume by the middle of this year, Nuri Berruien, chairman of state-run National Oil Corp., said last month.
Iran Hormuz Threat
Iran threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, the world’s biggest chokepoint for seaborne oil, if sanctions are tightened over its nuclear program, which the U.S. and allies suspect of being a cover for the development of weapons. The government in Tehran says the work is for civilian purposes. The 27 European Union countries will meet Jan. 23 to discuss an embargo on oil imports from the Islamic republic, the second-biggest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
Josko Jurin, managing director of tanker chartering at Tankerska Plovidba’s London subsidiary, Alan Shipping Co., declined to comment by phone. ConocoPhillips spokesman Rich Johnson declined to comment in an e-mail.
Two shipbrokers surveyed by Bloomberg said the booking was probably the first to the U.S. from Libya since the end of the conflict. Three others said they couldn’t name another one.
Imports of Libyan crude averaged 42,500 barrels a day in 2010, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The U.S. received no Libyan crude between June and October, the most recent EIA data show.
A tanker that loaded crude oil from a rebel-held port in eastern Libya in April emptied at least some of the cargo in Hawaii in June, according to ship-tracking data compiled by Bloomberg.
Six tankers have been booked so far to load 630,000 tons of crude in Libya this week, Poten data show. That equates to about 660,000 barrels a day, compared with 300,000 barrels a day booked to load on three tankers last week. Some cargoes are shipped under long-term freight contracts and don’t appear in lists of vessel bookings.
National Oil Corp. plans to export 11.5 million barrels of crude in the week of Jan. 19 to Jan. 25, up from 9.71 million barrels in the week of Jan. 5 to Jan 11, Ahmed El-Mihoub, a crude and natural-gas marketing official at the company, said in an e-mail from Tripoli today.
“The pace of recovery of Libya’s exports was a surprise,” said Harry Tchilinguirian, head of commodity-market strategy at BNP Paribas SA in London. “We had production of light quality oil missing from the market for the better part of 2011, and now we’re regaining that production a lot faster than people expected.”
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