ConocoPhillips to export first US shale oil to Vitol Group

ConocoPhillips will supply the first tanker-load, comprising crude and ultra-light condensate from wells in the Eagle Ford Shale formation in south Texas, after the US lifted a 40-year ban on export shipments two weeks ago (See: US lifts oil export ban after 40 years; offers sops to solar and wind power).

Rotterdam-based Swiss trader Vitol Group has become the first overseas buyer of US shale oil.

Vitol Group, with stakes in refineries from Belgium to the Persian Gulf to Australia, is buying two cargoes of US-sourced crude, the first of which would be ready to sail as soon as Thursday.

The shipment is in the process of being loaded at NuStar Energy LP's Corpus Christi, Texas, terminal the statement added. This follows last week's deal by Vitol for a separate 600,000-barrel shipment of domestic crude that would load from Enterprise Products Partners LP's Houston terminal in the first week of January. The producer of the oil for the first cargo had not been identified.

Meanwhile, oil prices cut losses on Thursday but ended 2015 sharply lower as the commodity suffered under global oversupply and a slowdown in the Chinese economy.

North Sea Brent, the European benchmark for oil, was down almost 35 per cent over the year, even as the US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) plunged 30 per cent.

"With Brent crude oil hovering near 11-year lows and WTI not faring all that much better, the markets are ending the year on a somber note, consistent with what we see as ongoing physical oversupply," said Tim Evans of Citi Futures, AFP reported.

The key futures contracts were down Thursday scoring modest daily gains. WTI for delivery in February was up 44 cents to close at $37.04 on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

In London, Brent for February delivery was up 82 cents to $37.28 a barrel.

According to commentators, the modest rebound on Thursday might stem from investors trying to minimise risks after betting on prices to fall ahead of the long New Year's weekend, said Andy Lipow of Lipow Oil Associates.

"It could be simply end-of-year short-covering because the market has been so bearish," he said, "and people squaring their positions."