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The US has moved to end a ban on seaborne crude exports that has been in place for 40 years. The short-term significance is likely to be marginal given that the US remains a substantial net importer of crude and such imports have again edged higher in recent months, with domestic crude production down by 400,000 b/d from its April peak of 9.5mn b/d.
But US refiners, which are mostly configured to running sour heavy crude have struggled to cope with the boom in light sweet shale-derived domestic output.
So light crude exports are likely to rise from the current 400,000 b/d or so shipped to Canada with a resultant increase in imports of heavier grades. In theory this could benefit the likes of Iraq, which has been shifting increasing quantities of its new Basra Heavy grade stateside in recent months, and Saudi Arabia.
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