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Libyan crude to travel to New Zealand in rare move: sources

London — Libyan crude will soon be making the long journey to a refinery in New Zealand in a rare export route for the North African country's oil, which usually finds homes in Europe and sometimes Asia, trading sources said Thursday.

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The Suez Fuzeyya was placed on subjects on a Zueitina/Ras Lanuf to Whangarei voyage to carry 1 million barrels of crude for a lump sum of $5 million for December 17-19 loading, sources said.

The cargo, which will include the Amna grade along with a mix of other Libyan crudes, was chartered by Azerbaijan's Socar Trading, sources added. A source at the company declined to comment on the details of the trade.

This will be the first new time New Zealand has imported Libyan crude in almost three years, according to S&P Global Platts estimates.

The crude will be processed at the 125,000 b/d Marsden Point refinery in Whangarei, operated by Refining NZ. A representative at Refining NZ was unavailable for comment.

New Zealand mainly relies on crude oil imports from Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Australia, Russia, Indonesia and Malaysia.

The country's crude imports have been in a range of 120,000-150,000 b/d over the past year, according to S&P Global Platts estimates.

GROWING DEMAND FOR LIBYAN CRUDE

Libyan oil production recovery still under threat

The appeal of Libya's light sweet crude has broadened over the past year driven by higher production and exports, along with strong middle distillate cracks.

Asian appetite for Libyan sweet crude has also grown in the past few months as refineries in the world's largest oil demand center start to run sweeter slates.

Libyan crude -- which is typically light, contains low sulfur and yields a good amount of middle distillates and gasoline -- is extremely popular among refineries in the Mediterranean and Northwest Europe.

Libyan oil production has averaged around 1.1 million b/d in the past month, nearing a five-and-a-half-month high and marking a major change of fortune from early June when fighting at key oil export terminals sent production into freefall.

-- Eklavya Gupte with Gillian Carr, newsdesk@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Maurice Geller, newsdesk@spglobal.com

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