Oil from US reserves shipped abroad as petrol prices remain high

HOUSTON, July 5 (Reuters) – More than 5 million barrels of oil that were part of a historic US emergency reserve to lower domestic fuel prices were exported to Europe and Asia last month, according to data and sources, even as US gasoline and diesel prices reached record high.

Exports of crude oil and fuel dull the impact of moves by US President Joe Biden to lower record pump prices. On Saturday, Biden renewed a call for petrol suppliers to cut prices, and drew criticism from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. read more

Approximately 1 million barrels per day are released from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) through October. Power is dropping SPR, which last month fell to its lowest level since 1986. US crude oil futures are above $ 100 a barrel and gasoline and diesel prices above $ 5 per gallon in a fifth of the country. US authorities have said that the oil price could be higher if SPR had not been used.

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“The SPR remains a critical energy security tool for dealing with global crude oil supply disruptions,” said a spokesman for the Ministry of Energy, adding that the emergency releases helped ensure a stable supply of crude oil.

The fourth-largest U.S. oil refiner, Phillips 66 (PSX.N), shipped about 470,000 barrels of acid crude oil from the Big Hill SPR storage facility in Texas to Trieste, Italy, according to U.S. Customs. Trieste is home to a pipeline that sends oil to refineries in Central Europe.

Atlantic Trading & Marketing (ATMI), an arm of the French oil major TotalEnergies (TTEF.PA), exported 2 loads of 560,000 barrels each, the data showed.

Phillips 66 declined to comment on trading activity. ATMI did not respond to a request for comment.

Loads of SPR oil were also shipped to the Netherlands and to a Reliance (RELI.NS) refinery in India, an industry source said. A third cargo went to China, said another source.

At least one cargo of crude oil from the West Hackberry SPR plant in Louisiana was to be exported in July, a shipping source added.

“Crude oil and fuel prices would probably be higher if (SPR releases) had not happened, but at the same time it does not really have the effect that was assumed,” said Matt Smith, lead oil analyst at Kpler.

The latest exports follow three vessels that transported SPR oil to Europe in April to replace Russian crude oil supplies. read more

US crude oil inventories are the lowest since 2004, as refineries are approaching peak levels. Refineries on the US Gulf Coast had an utilization rate of 97.9%, the highest in three and a half years.

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Reporting by Arathy Somasekhar in Houston; Editing Chizu Nomiyama and Sam Holmes

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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