* Two VLCCs co-load Qatari, Abu Dhabi grades
* Impact of shipping restriction less severe than expected
* Business as usual -trader (Adds details, trader comments)
By Mark Tay
SINGAPORE, June 7 (Reuters) - Exports of Qatari crude oil have not been hindered by a port ban imposed by other Gulf states as tankers are loading Qatari grades along with cargoes from the United Arab Emirate, shipping data in Thomson Reuters Eikon showed on Wednesday.
Two Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCC), which can each carry up to 2 million barrels of oil, successfully loaded Abu Dhabi grades on Wednesday, despite having taken on Qatari crude in an earlier leg of the voyage, shipping data in Thomson Reuters Eikon showed on Wednesday.
The loadings come amid Abu Dhabi’s easing of restrictions on oil cargoes going to or coming from Qatar, according to a shipping circular seen by Reuters.
Tensions in the Middle East erupted on June 5, when Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain severed their ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorism. The Arab allies, which halted air, land and sea movements to and from Qatar also implemented shipping restrictions.
The restrictions left oil shippers, unsure of the restrictions’ impact, scrambling to take precautionary measures such as seeking smaller tankers to load and ship only Qatari cargoes.
Supertanker Apollo Dream loaded Abu Dhabi’s Upper Zakum crude after already taking a cargo of Qatar Marine onboard. The Panamanian-flagged vessel, which is managed and chartered by Japanese oil refiner Idemitsu Kosan, loaded the Qatari grade at Halul Island on June 5-6, before heading to Zirku Island in Abu Dhabi to take on the Upper Zakum crude.
A second supertanker New Friendship also loaded Abu Dhabi Das Blend crude on Wednesday. The VLCC had earlier taken on Qatari Deodorized Field Condensate (DFC) from Ras Laffan over June 4-5.
Both tankers sailed directly from Qatari to UAE berths, and as of 1041 GMT were signalling Saudi Arabia’s Ras Tanura as their next port of call.
‘BUSINESS AS USUAL’
The two supertanker voyages point towards the status quo of shipping activities in the region.
“Until we hear an example of a ‘ban’, business as usual for now,” a Singapore-based trader who specialises in Middle East markets said.
Two Asian refiners, who declined to be identified because of the commercial sensitivity of the matter, said they did not experience any problems with the shipment of Qatari cargoes.
“I think we are fine, we can handle it,” one of the sources said.
Reporting by Mark Tay, Additional reporting by Roslan Khasawneh and Jessica Jaganathan; Editing by Christian Schmollinger, Greg Mahlich