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Total to ship US Gulf gasoline to Australia in rare move: sources

Highlights

In a rare move, Total plans to move a gasoline shipment from the US Gulf Coast to Australia to take advantage of the arbitrage available on the route, market participants said Thursday.

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"There is an opportunity to move gasoline from the US Gulf to Australia's eastern coast. Total is moving at least one cargo of around 60,000 mt," a source familiar with the development said.

A Long Range I, or LR1, ship has been taken for this purpose at around $2.275 million and loading is scheduled for mid-June, another source said.

Total could not be immediately reached for comment.

However, sources tracking the deal said that a ship ballasting from Brazil was initially placed on subjects earlier this week at around $2 million, but later released due to technical reasons. Now another ship has been taken for moving the same cargo but at a higher rate, they said, adding that the trade has been done through Total's US subsidiary.

"It's a rare move but at current freight rates, there is no reason for not doing this run," a North Asia-based broker said.

Another broker said that US gasoline does move Down Under occasionally when the price economics are workable.

The shutdown of refineries in Australia over the last 10 years has pushed up its imports of oil products, including jet fuel, gasoil and gasoline.

Australia imports a major portion of these products from Singapore and North Asia but in the last two years, trading companies have gradually diversified their origins to include the Middle East, Western Europe and also the US.

Earlier, the Medium Range, or MR, tankers that typically carry up to 45,000-mt cargoes dominated the shipments to Australia.

However, shipments in LR1 and LR2 tankers, with capacities of up to 65,000 mt and 90,000 mt respectively, are now becoming increasingly common.

Water levels in the Mississippi river and the ability of a tanker to pass through the Panama Canal are among some of the factors taken into account when planning to move clean oil products from the USGC to East Asia and Australia.

--Sameer C. Mohindru; sameer.mohindru@spglobal.com

--Edited by Manish Parashar, manishparashar@spglobal.com