The Louisiana Offshore Oil Port imported only one cargo of crude during the first 10 days of March, according to S&P Global Platts Analytics and US Customs data.
Marathon Petroleum bought one 497,000-barrel cargo of Mexican heavy sour crude Maya on March 6, according to the data.
The cargo was imported into Morgan City, Louisiana, representing the point of record for LOOP crude imports.
In contrast, during the first 10 days of February, more than 2.527 million barrels of crude were imported into Morgan City.
Of that volume, only 507,000 barrels consisted of Maya crude with the rest comprised of Iraqi Basrah Light.
The February cargo of Maya was also purchased by Marathon Petroleum.
Maya has an average API gravity of 21.67 degrees and typical sulphur content of 3.33%, according to Platts crude oil assay data.
Spring maintenance is ongoing at 14 regional refineries, with a combined capacity of 4.144 million b/d. Turnaround season has led to a decrease in demand for imported barrels of crude to the USGC.
Unused domestic production is either fed into export markets or stored for the summer, when refinery runs
increase to meet gasoline demand.
Demand for imports has further been dampened by a narrowing Brent/WTI swap spread.
Since the start of the year, Brent’s premium over WTI has decreased $2.75/b to end at $3.46/b.
As Brent’s premium falls, WTI-based domestic grades become less competitive in both domestic and export markets.
In addition, imports to the USGC become disincentivized.
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