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First crude oil cargo set to be exported from Saudi-Kuwaiti Neutral Zone

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First crude oil cargo set to be exported from Saudi-Kuwaiti Neutral Zone

London — The first crude export in more than five years from the Neutral Zone shared by Kuwait and with Saudi Arabia is set to take place this week, a shipping source told S&P Global Platts Thursday.

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The cargo is loading crude from the zone's offshore Al-Khafji field, the source said on condition of anonymity.

Al-Khafji is one of two major fields in the Neutral Zone, along with the onshore Wafra that had been shuttered by a political dispute between Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, before a deal brokered in December paved the way for their restart.

The fields, which have a combined capacity of 550,000 b/d, are in an area straddling the border between the two countries, which agreed in 1970 to co-manage and share crude production from the zone equally.

The Suezmax tanker Monte Toledo was loading up 1 million barrels of crude at the Ras al-Khafji terminal Thursday, data from Platts cFlow, trade flow software, showed.

The tanker arrived at the terminal on Wednesday, the first tanker to have arrived at the port in a number of years, according to Platts cFlow data.

The Monte Toledo had been placed on subjects on a Saudi Arabia to East voyage for early-April loading dates, according to shipbroker reports seen two weeks ago by Platts.

Al-Khafji, shuttered since 2014, is jointly owned by Saudi Arabia's Aramco Gulf Operations Co. and Kuwait Gulf Oil Co., a unit of state-run Kuwait Petroleum Corp. Neither company was immediately available for comment.

Wafra, offline since 2015, is operated by KGOC and Saudi Arabian Chevron. The field is undergoing preparations for a restart, Chevron said in February.

Prior to production suspension, Al-Khafji crude had an API gravity of 28.5 degrees and 2.85% sulfur content, and Wafra had an API of 24.5 degrees and 3.88% sulfur content.