Houston — Crude oil from Libya was imported to refiners in the US Gulf Coast in November for the first time since August 2013, according to data released Wednesday by the US Energy Information Administration.
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In November, two Aframaxes arrived in the Gulf Coast from Libya, chartered by BP and Citgo, carrying 32.5 and 36.6 API crude, respectively, and both with a sulfur content of 0.14%, the EIA data showed.
The BP-chartered cargo delivered to Oil Tanking PL in Houston carrying 449,000 barrels, while the cargo chartered by Citgo headed to Lake Charles, Louisiana, where Citgo owns a 425,000 b/d refinery, contained 552,000 barrels.
Platts cFlow ship-tracking software shows the EuroChampion 2004 deported from Ras Lanuf on October 18, and arrived at Offshore Galveston Lighterage on November 5.
The Nissos Delos left the port of Marsa el Hariga on October 27, and arrived the Port of South Louisiana on November 30, Platts cFlow shows.
The rare Libyan exports to the USGC came amid production and logistical issues for the OPEC member nation, as it saw political turmoil and fighting in October.
"[The imports] probably are not going to be a regular thing -- too much can go wrong," a US crude source said. "Things are going to have to really settle down for it to become consistent."
Libya saw crude production average 860,000 b/d in October, nearly double the July level, according to a previous Platts survey of OPEC and oil industry officials and analysts.
The increase in production came despite strikes and protests in oil fields across the country in October.
Since the crude exports from the North African nation arrived in the USGC, Libya has seen its crude output fall to about 350,000 b/d in January, according to industry sources, as major oil fields and ports have been shut-in due to fighting between the Libyan army and pro-Islamist soldiers.
The inconsistency with the crude production in Libya and shut-ins at its ports mean that these imports to the Gulf Coast will be few and far between, according to US Gulf Coast crude market participants.
"[Crude imports from] Libya would be opportunistic only," another US crude trader said. "The production is way too unstable, and the internal tensions are getting worse."
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--Edited by Derek Sands, firstname.lastname@example.org