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US' LOOP loads 2nd VLCC crude export cargo; Shell again charterer: market sources

The Louisiana Offshore Oil Port has successfully loaded its seconddirect-to-VLCC export of US crude, a source familiar with the matter saidTuesday, with market sources suggesting that the VLCC Nave Photon is ladenwith the Gulf of Mexico medium sour grade Mars and chartered by Shell, whichalso was responsible for the first export VLCC out of LOOP last month.

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LOOP declined to comment Tuesday, and Shell did not respond to a requestfor comment.

S&P Global Platts vessel-tracking software cFlow showed the Nave Photonin the US Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday, southeast of LOOP's offshore mooringstations. Data showed the tanker arrived in LOOP waters March 15 and departedSunday. That 10-day time frame is slightly longer than the length of time ittook for the first direct-to-VLCC export of crude in the US Gulf Coast. In mid-February, Shell loaded the continental US' first direct-to-VLCCexport of US crude. Shell loaded Mars onto the VLCC Shaden, with Unipecreportedly looking to take the crude itself into China. The Shaden arrived atLOOP on February 11 and sailed February 18. Platts cFlow on Tuesday showed theShaden in the Indian Ocean with an estimated arrival at Rizhao, China, onApril 12.

LOOP is currently the only US Gulf Coast export facility that does notrequire Aframax or Suezmax vessels for reverse lightering onto a VLCC. If, forexample, an exporter uses an Aframax at a daily rate of about $300,000$340,000, that could add as much as 60-68 cents/b to the export cost,depending on how much crude is loaded onto the VLCC, a ship that typicallyholds around 2 million barrels.

--John-Laurent Tronche,

--Alan Tomczak,

--Edited by Lisa Miller,