Exxon now exporting Texas oil to Europe

Bloomberg/Fuel Fix:
Exxon Mobil Corp. has become the first major U.S. oil company to ship American crude overseas, joining a band of independent traders that are trying to ease a glut at home after a 40-year export ban was lifted.

Exxon Mobil shipped U.S. crude into a refinery it owns in Sicily, according to a person familiar with the matter and three traders and ship brokers. The Maran Sagitta oil tanker sailed in early February from Beaumont, where Exxon Mobil operates a refinery. It recently arrived in the Italian port of Augusta.

Until now, trading houses including Vitol Group BV and Trafigura Pte and European-based oil companies have shipped U.S. crude overseas. Exxon Mobil is the first American firm that joins the race, which comes as domestic U.S. crude inventories surge to the highest level in nearly 90 years.

“While we do not comment on the details of proprietary commercial agreements, crude exports from the U.S. are now another commercial option that we may elect to exercise from time to time,” Exxon Mobil said in an e-mailed statement.

Oil traders are shipping West Texas Intermediate to refiners in the Mediterranean to profit from the difference in crude prices between the two regions. A glut of WTI has pushed up U.S. stockpiles to a record, depressing the price of the U.S. benchmark relative to European Brent crude.
The move allows the company to arbitrage the price differential and also relieve the storage glut in the US.   It also is a boost to the US trade account and provides an immediate benefit to the recent lifting of export restrictions by Congress.

It is also an example of the strength of a large multination energy company in dealing with a tough market situation.


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