Alaskan North Slope (ANS) crude will be shipped to Nicaragua for the first time in July, two trade sources said on Friday, underscoring a shift in oil flows to and from the U.S. West Coast.
A parcel of the medium grade crude is on its way to the Pacific Area Lightering (PAL) near southern California on Exxon Mobil Corp's Liberty
Bay, a U.S. flagged vessel, according to the sources and Reuters vessel tracking data.
From there, it will transfer to the Liberian-flagged Panamax tanker Chantal for delivery to Nicaragua, where Swiss commodities trader Trafigura
Trading LLC will take the crude, said the sources who were not authorized to speak to the media about the matter.
Representatives for Trafigura and Exxon declined to comment.
Global crude flows have changed in the last six months as oversupplied markets force producers to compete aggressively on price. The United States in December lifted a four-decade ban on exporting crude, giving global refiners access to a wider variety of crude.
ANS, which was exempted from the U.S. export ban, is almost exclusively sold to West Coast refiners and transported on U.S. flagged vessels owned by BP Plc, Exxon and ConocoPhillips that comply with maritime law
. The rare cargoes that have moved abroad in recent years have gone to South Korea or Japan.
Trafigura has a stake in Puma Energy, which operates a small refinery in Managua, Nicaragua, and manages downstream assets in 47 countries.
In March, Trafigura took 380,000 barrels of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude at its Puma refinery in Nicaragua.
(Reporting by Liz Hampton; additional reporting by Marianna Parraga, Editing by Terry Wade and Richard Chang)