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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

BP Says Ready to Transport Russian Crude to America

LONDON -- BP on Friday added its name to the list of players considering moving very large crude carriers of Urals crude to the United States, market sources said Friday.

BP had provisionally booked the Astro Chorus for loading from ship-to-ship transfer at Malta around July 2, but later failed the vessel, shipping brokers said.

It appeared the tanker would have been filled by trans-shipping a pair of million-barrel ex-Novorossiisk Urals cargoes loading June 24-25 and 28-29, supplied by producers TNK and Sidanco, respectively.

A host of other players, including U.S. trader Sempra, Swiss-based trader Vitol and major Total, have in the past few months toyed with possible trans-Atlantic supertanker shipments by combining smaller Black Sea cargoes. But most of these have fallen through due to difficult logistics. Shipping data indicate that Vitol was the exception, lifting the Stena Constellation around May 20, made up of Odessa cargoes, for its Come-by-Chance refinery in Canada.

An arbitrage for Urals to the United States -- a relatively rarity until last year -- has been open for the past month as refiners there run short of sour Iraqi oil and strike-hit Venezuelan crude.

Although costly, ship-to-ship transfers of Urals allow arbitrageurs to take advantage of economies of scale and avoid restrictions on shipments through the Bosporus strait.