Iraqi crude exports fall on wide Dubai premium, fall turnarounds: In the LOOP

Imports of Iraqi crude oil to the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port declined from September to October as US Gulf Coast refiners experienced fall turnaround season and as the Dubai/WTI spread remained historically wide.

LOOP imported about 594,000 fewer barrels of Iraqi Basrah Light crude in October than it did in September, according to data from the US Customs department and Platts Analytics. In addition, imports into LOOP of Basrah Heavy crude dried up in October, from a level of 1.025 million barrels in September.

Basrah Light has a typical API gravity of 30.92 degrees and sulfur content of around 2.72%. Basrah Heavy has an average API gravity of 23.84 degrees and typical sulfur content of 3.87%, according to Platts data.

A wide Dubai/WTI spread has discouraged imports of Middle Eastern crude into the US Gulf Coast, with WTI depressed in price due to an influx of crude into the Cushing, Oklahoma, storage terminal. Since the start of September, Dubai’s premium over WTI has grown 78 cents/b to $4.18/b as of Friday.

This influx of barrels into Cushing includes a steady volume of competing Canadian grade Western Canadian Select. The assessment for the grade at Cushing on Friday reached its lowest value since December 19, 2016, falling to minus $9.45/b versus the WTI calendar-month average.

For December volumes sold into the US, Iraq’s SOMO is lowering the OSP for Basrah Light by 15 cents/b, but keeping the OSP for Basrah Heavy unchanged.

Lower USGC refinery run rates due to fall turnaround season also discouraged imports into LOOP during October. By the first week of November, run rates had started to bounce back, though, increasing by 291,000 b/d for the week ended November 3.

The ‘In the LOOP’ Americas crude oil wrap runs each Monday in Crude Oil Marketwire, North American Crude and Products Scan and on the Platts Global Alert. You can read the FAQ: USGC LOOP Sour crude here and find the full special report LOOP Sour Crude: A benchmark for the future here. Also be sure to download our LOOP app by searching for ‘Platts LOOP’ in your app store.

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