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Exxon to load 4-6 Dec crude cargoes from Sakhalin-1

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Exxon Mobil Corp. is set to load four to six cargoes of Russian Sokol crude next month at the Sakhalin-1 terminal, up from October and November volumes, but still well below its target of 10, a port source said on Monday.

The terminal, which has already loaded three 80,000-100,000 deadweight tonne tankers this month, is currently taking about three to four days to complete loading operations. Two tankers loaded in October.

"There should be four tankers loading this month, and this is in line with the original plan of between four and six tankers a month," the Sakhalin-based port source said.

This is an improvement from when loadings commenced at the end of August, where the first tanker took about seven days to load. Typical loading operations for an aframax tanker at the terminal located on Russia's Pacific Coast, is about 14 hours.

Earlier this month, Russia's technical standards agency Rostekhnadzor said that it did not expect to clear the terminal for full-scale oil exports at least till December.

"It is only natural with a new terminal to see loading operations taking longer than its potential, because of the mechanical checks that needs to be conducted," the source said.

Exxon Mobil, the operator of the Sakhalin-1 field with a 30 percent stake, had originally planned to hit about 250,000 barrels per day (bpd) of production by the end of the year, which would mean they would have to ship about 10 cargoes a month. This is equal to about 6 percent of Japan's imports.

The port source declined to say when the projected full production volumes could be expected, though it had been anticipated to do so by mid-2007.

The date for launching Asia-Pacific's biggest new crude stream in over a decade has slipped several times this year.

But the launch of these exports has since eased investor fears that recent environmental issues were going to hamper supply flows from the De Kastri terminal.

The terminal, which has had to grapple with a series of delays, last week loaded 673,000 barrels of oil onto an India-bound tanker, Russian media reports said last week.

India's Oil and Natural Gas Corp. (ONGC) and Russian state oil firm Rosneft each holds a 20 percent stake in the project, while Japanese consortium Sodeco owns 30 percent.

© Reuters


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