Some exporters of Mars crude, which is produced in the Gulf, have offered customers alternatives including switching to other crude grades, re-scheduling loadings or changing ports, traders involved in the sales said.
That strategy resulted in Mars prices easing in recent days. After spiking to a $1.50 per barrel premium above the U.S. WTI, the highest since January, Mars for October delivery slid to a 50-cents per barrel discount to the U.S. benchmark on Wednesday, the lowest in two weeks.
However, some analysts said Mars would be the last grade to come back to the export market because of damage to a key offshore transfer hub. Royal Dutch Shell, which declared force majeure on contracts, continues to assess damage to the West Delta-143 platform, which controls the flow of oil from three large fields.
Some tankers that were scheduled to load at Louisiana ports in the last three weeks have diverted to Galveston Offshore Lightering Area (GOLA) and Corpus Christi, Texas, for loadings. Those ports are fully working after brief suspensions due to Hurricane Nicholas this week.
Corpus Christi exported 1.69 million bpd of crude in August, up about 100,000 bpd from July, the port said. Export data for September was not available.