SAN ANTONIO — Valero Energy Corp. has received permission to re-export light Canadian crude oil from the United States to its Quebec plant, a company official said Monday.
The San Antonio refiner said it sought the license to re-export Canadian crude because during the winter some oil shipments headed to Quebec by rail from western Canada were delayed by bad weather.
In the face of the delay, “we considered the possibility of rerouting that train south to the Gulf Coast and putting the crude on a ship and sending it up to Quebec,” Valero spokesman Bill Day said Monday.
“It actually would have worked out and would have been quicker to do that than wait for the delay,” he said.
But Valero, the nation’s largest independent refiner, couldn’t make the move at the time because it didn’t have the necessary U.S. Commerce Department permit.
“So it just made sense and wasn’t that problematic to get the license,” Day said.
The permit also allows Valero to send light Canadian crude to its Pembroke refinery in the United Kingdom, but that isn’t economically feasible now, Day said.
“Our primary aim is to make sure the Quebec refinery is supplied with 100 percent North American crude,” he said.
Even with the license in hand, there may not be another instance where re-exporting Canadian crude would be necessary. “But if there is, we could consider doing it,” Day said.
Valero’s license is specific, and only allows the company to re-export light Canadian crude arriving in the United States by rail. It doesn’t allow re-export of heavy Canadian crude.
The license also limits the amount of crude subject to re-export. Valero hasn’t disclosed the amount.
That Valero received the license doesn’t advance oil producers’ argument that the nation’s ban on exporting oil should be lifted.
“It doesn’t change the debate,” an energy analyst said.
Valero officials have said that the company doesn’t support lifting the ban on oil exports.
“We support the current system,” Day said. “It’s a system that works well.”