Russian oil major Lukoil has emerged as one of the first companies to buy Canadian crude re-exported from a U.S. port, shipping one cargo last month to its refinery in Augusta, Italy, data showed on Tuesday.
A 445,000-barrel cargo of Canadian Sour grade loaded on the Sifnos, a Suezmax crude tanker, in Houston and departed on July 6, according to PIERS oil export trade flows data available via Thomson Reuters' Eikon. It discharged at the 320,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) ISAB refinery in Augusta, Italy, on the island of Sicily, on Aug. 1.
Lukoil, the second-biggest oil producer in Russia, took a stake in the Sicilian refinery in 2008 and gradually increased its stake to full ownership in December 2013.
The U.S. Department of Commerce has approved nearly five dozen crude oil re-export licenses for foreign-origin oil to destinations other than Canada, although only a handful of those appear to have been used.
The first such cargo of re-exported Western Canada Select crude sailed from Freeport, Texas, to a Repsol refinery in Spain in May. Some smaller shipments flowed to Switzerland in April and May, according to U.S. government data.
The permits, which were approved between October 2013 and April, include licenses for re-exports to European countries as well as China, India, South Korea and Malaysia, according to data released by the department's Bureau of Industry and Security.
The United States does not allow exports of its own oil, with few exceptions such as barrels going to Canada or re-exports of foreign oil from U.S. ports.
By Anna Louie Sussman