Exclusive: Shell says has U.S. OK to export lightly processed oil

Tue Jan 13, 2015 10:11pm EST
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By Kristen Hays

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSa.L: Quote) said on Tuesday it received U.S. approval to export a very light form of crude oil that has undergone minimal processing.

Shell had been working with the U.S. Department of Commerce's Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) on how to ship lightly processed condensate overseas without violating a decades-old crude export ban, the company told Reuters. The BIS regulates export controls.

The approval enables Shell to move ahead with exports of condensate that qualifies as an exportable refined product as defined by BIS guidance issued on Dec. 30, the company said.

However, U.S. crude oil prices have fallen by more than half since June, to less than $50 a barrel, and Shell said it would export processed condensate when it was sufficiently profitable.

"The timing of any potential future export of this product will be determined by the economics of the transaction," Shell said.

Previous approvals were given to Enterprise Products Partners (EPD.N: Quote), Pioneer Natural Resources PDX.N and Peaker Energy.

Condensate makes up an increasing portion of growing U.S. output, which reached a 25-year high of more than 9 million barrels per day last month.

Yet U.S. refiners and petrochemical companies have a limited appetite for the super-light crude and, until last year, the oil industry believed it needed sophisticated processing, such as provided by a refinery, before it could be exported.   Continued...

A logo for Shell is seen on a garage forecourt in central London March 6, 2014.   REUTERS/Neil Hall