Here’s the first known U.S. crude oil cargo destined for export

The Theo T crude oil tanker docked in Corpus Christi (NuStar)
The Theo T crude oil tanker docked in Corpus Christi (NuStar)

The “Theo T” tanker left Corpus Christi Thursday afternoon with the first known crude oil cargo sold internationally since Congress lifted the 40-year-old ban on crude exports earlier this month.

San Antonio-based NuStar Energy loaded the oil cargo on New Year’s Eve at its dock at the Port of Christi. While NuStar handled the loading, Houston-based ConocoPhillips sold the crude oil from the Eagle Ford Shale in South Texas to Switzerland-based Vitol, an international trading company that will market the oil globally.

The Bahamas-flagged Theo T tanker set sail shortly after 3 p.m. Thursday, according to NuStar. The vessel arrived Tuesday in Corpus Christi and is operated by Greece-based Ionia Management. The companies are not yet revealing the tanker’s destination.

NuStar’s announcement appears to put its shipment ahead of plans by Houston-based Enterprise Products Partners, which said last week it will load 600,000 barrels of crude onto a tanker in Houston during the first week of 2016. Vitol is also the buyer of Enterprise’s load. There may be other companies planning such shipments that haven’t announced their plans.

The oil cargo on Thursday isn’t technically the first oil exported in 40 years, since the ban had some exceptions, such as shipments to Canada and transactions involving some crude extracted in California or Alaska’s North Slope.

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