A cargo of Alaskan North Slope crude loaded Sept. 26 at the Alaskan port of Valdez for delivery into the South Korean refining center of Yeosu, according to Genscape. The cargo was detected by Genscape Vesseltracker AIS vessel monitoring data. The US-flagged tanker, Polar Discovery, is reported to have sailed from the ANS export terminal at Valdez, Alaska, for east Asia. Yeosu is home to a GS Caltex-operated 775,000 bpd refinery, the world’s fourth largest. The Polar Discovery is expected to arrive at Yeosu on October 10, according to Vesseltracker.
According to the US Energy Information Administration, no Alaskan crude oil has been exported outside of the United States since 2004. Overseas exports of ANS are permitted by US federal law.
ConocoPhillips confirmed to Genscape on Sept. 29 that it had entered into a sales agreement to export a cargo of ANS crude to Asia during Q4 2014. According to a ConocoPhillips official, the company is “entering into this transaction because during the trading period for this volume, bids from Asian customers were higher than bids from U.S. West Coast customers. At that point we calculated we could achieve a higher realized price for the crude oil after all incremental costs were taken into account.”
ConocoPhillips has the capability to export a limited amount of ANS crude to non-US customers as allowed by law and this will allow the state of Alaska and ConocoPhillips to “potentially realize a higher value for this important natural resource,” the official said in a statement. “Given the new market paradigm created by increased domestic and Canadian production, we will consider and pursue export markets for ANS crude oil when appropriate,” they said. Railed shipments of US and Canadian crude have increased into US West Coast destinations in recent months as North American production has increased.
The Polar Discovery’s cargo size is unconfirmed but it may be around 784,000 bbls, sources said. So far this year, the 141,740 deadweight tonne tanker has shuttled Alaskan crude into refineries on the US West Coast.