(Corrects paragraph 2 to vessel loaded off the coast of
Louisiana, instead of from the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port)
By Catherine Ngai, Liz Hampton and Florence Tan
NEW YORK, April 26 Mercuria Energy Trading S.A.
has shipped the first ever reported export of Bakken crude oil
to Asia, according to a shipping document seen by Reuters on
Wednesday, the latest shift in global oil flows as the United
States seeks to draw down its bloated inventories.
The Swiss-based energy trader loaded more than 600,000
barrels of Bakken crude, as well as some Mars Sour crude, in
late March off the coast of Louisiana onto the very large crude
carrier (VLCC) Maran Canopus, destined for Singapore, according
to the bill of lading and ship tracking data.
A company official could not immediately be reached for
A year ago, Hess Corp sold Bakken crude for export
out of the U.S. Gulf Coast to Europe, the first reported
shipment of the light North Dakota oil since Congress lifted the
ban on exporting crude in December 2015.
The cargo comes just weeks before the controversial Dakota
Access Pipeline is slated to start bringing some 470,000 barrels
per day of oil from North Dakota's Bakken shale to the Midwest
and U.S. Gulf Coast.
"There seems to be increasing demand for light quality crude
in Asia," said Michael Cohen, head of energy commodities
research at Barclays. "I think with Dakota Access coming online,
it makes the pipeline route from the Bakken to the Gulf Coast
Exports of Bakken crude may also help alleviate swelling
inventories on the Gulf Coast, which are currently near record
The deluge of light oil from the startup of the Dakota
Access is anticipated to put downward pressure on Gulf Coast
crude prices, said Sandy Fielden, director of oil and products
research at Morningstar. The lower prices may make it more
economical to export the crude.
Refiners from Japan said they have been testing the oil from
the North Dakota shale and taken an interest in it due to the
products it yields through refining.
"It suits the refinery more," said a Japanese refiner, who
was not authorized to speak on the record.
(Reporting by Catherine Ngai in New York; Liz Hampton in
Houston; Florence Tan in Singapore; Editing by Marguerita Choy)