Repsol will test the first batches of Canadian crude at its Spanish refineries later this month as the oil major takes advantage of a provision that allows Canadian crude to be re-exported through U.S. ports, said a source with knowledge of the deal.
Repsol has bought a cargo of Western Canada Select (WCS) heavy blend crude that will arrive in the European country at the end of May to be used as a test for several refineries, the source said.
"The 600,000 barrels of WCS were loaded at Freeport (Texas) after obtaining the license to export them from the United States. Mexican Maya was also loaded to optimize the freight," the source added.
To export Canadian crudes from the United States such as the WCS, a heavy sour blend with 20 API degrees made of more than a dozen Canadian crudes, the seller needs to ask to the U.S. Department of Commerce for a license for every cargo. The export of U.S. crudes, however, is banned in almost all cases.
Repsol was not available to comment.
The company has been increasing purchases of heavy crudes, primarily Latin American grades, through supply contracts with Venezuela's PDVSA for Morichal 16, Colombia's Ecopetrol for Castilla and Mexico's PEMEX for Maya crude.
After being chartered by Repsol, the Suezmax oil tanker Aleksey Kosygin was on Wednesday going out from the U.S. Gulf Coast and it is scheduled to arrive to Bilbao, Spain, on May 29, according to Reuters vessel tracking data.
The company plans to keep buying this crude type if the tests are successful, the source added.
Repsol owns five industrial and refining complexes in Spain with a joint capacity of 896,000 barrels per day. It also operates the 102,000-bpd La Pampilla refinery in Peru.
The agreed price and seller were not disclosed.
"The WCS is a good quality crude. It is at the same level than Colombian or Venezuela heavy grades," the source said.
PDVSA has scheduled two 600,000-barrel deliveries of Morichal 16 crude for Repsol's refineries La Coruna and Cartagena in Spain, according to the Venezuelan state-run company's exports plan.
U.S. oil producers are not allowed to export domestic crude overseas, but refining firms are increasing sales of finished products and most exploration and production companies favor lifting the export ban that was introduced in 1973 in reaction to the Arab oil embargo.
(Reporting by Marianna Parraga; Editing by Terry Wade and Lisa Shumaker)