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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Frigid Weather in U.S. Puts Heat on Russian Oil Sales

LONDON -- Colder winter weather in the United States has attracted rare shipments of Russian heating oil across the Atlantic, European oil traders said.

Over six cargoes of heating oil totaling 360,000 metric tons were shipped from the Baltic port of Ventspils in the past week as temperatures across the Atlantic dropped below normal.

Dealers said strong heating oil prices in the United States, which reached their highest in four years last week, caused domestic buyers to look for cheaper imports.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, prompt heating-oil futures prices rose to nine-year highs above 20 cents a liter Tuesday and stayed above that level Wednesday.

Traders said Germany's Mabanaft, U.S. refiner Koch and Dutch trader Vitol were among those involved in the recent sale.

Shipping sources said vessels that were fixed to deliver heating oil to the United States included the Atlantic Pride, the Lovely Lady, Amphitrite and Pactol River.

Traders said European sellers took the advantage of sizzling U.S. prices to move unsold Russian barrels westward.

"Exports from Ventspils were normal but there were no buyers in the European market," one trader said.

Traders said demand in Europe, in contrast to the United States, has been dormant because Germany, the continent's largest heating-oil consumer, had adequate stocks.

Stocks of distillates in the northeast United States rose by 2.3 million barrels last week but levels were a hefty 30 million barrels lower than a year ago, according to American Petroleum Institute data.