Coronavirus pushes rare crude grades onto global market

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Unusual crude oil grades are making their way onto the global market as refiners slash runs amid cratering demand. Lockdowns and quarantines as a result of the coronavirus are freeing crude grades that are typically consumed in their domestic markets.

First up is Argentina, where we have seen the first export of Canadon Seco on our records since 2013. The crude, which was loaded onto Suezmax Matala, is bound for Ningbo, China. The crude grade is typically refined domestically in Argentina, but given lower refining activity, exemplified by the shutdown of Raizen’s 108,000 bpd Buenos Aires refinery, the crude has made its way onto the international market instead.

Moving to Peru, a rare export of Talara crude has been shipped to the US West Coast, marking the first export of the grade on our records. The light sweet grade was loaded onto LR1 Ice Fighter, discharging at P66′ Rodeo refinery in California. This crude is produced in northwestern Peru, where the 65,000 bpd Talara refinery is located. The refinery was shut down in December as it undergoes an upgrade of 30,000 bpd which will be complete by next year.

We are also seeing rare grades exported out of Europe. Last month, Italy exported a co-loaded a cargo of Tempa Rossa and Rospo Mare grades to the United States. It was the first export of heavy sweet Tempa Rossa on our records, while the first delivery to the US of heavy sour Rospo Mare since our records began in 2013. With strict quarantine measures in Italy, product demand has tanked, and refinery utilization has dropped accordingly.

Despite a number of these unusual grade exports of late, it may well be the last of them as refinery throughput slowly returns to normal in these countries and as quarantines and lockdowns are gradually lifted.