One million barrels of Bakken crude headed to China

By Patrick C. Miller | October 23, 2017

Continental Resources announced last week that it will sell about 1 million barrels of light sweet crude from western North Dakota for export to China next month.

The oil will be delivered to Atlantic Trading and Marketing Inc. (ATMI), which intends to export the oil to China. Daily sales transactions of 33,500 barrels per day in November will take place in Cushing, Oklahoma. ATMI then plans to transport the oil for loading on tankers at Texas ports.

"This is a historic day for Continental and begins a new chapter in our long-term strategy to establish multiple international markets for American light sweet oil," said Harold Hamm, Continental's chairman and CEO. "This new normal was created by the American shale energy revolution and the lifting of the 1977 crude oil export ban. We expect to see many similar industry transactions in coming months and years."

Hamm and others in the oil and gas industry led efforts to lift the U.S. crude export ban. In December 2015, the ban was ended, enabling foreign sales to be transacted without a license. According to Continental, oil exports have grown steadily in the past two years, primarily to foreign refineries configured specifically to process light sweet crude oil.

Noting that Continental continues to develop additional international markets for its light sweet oil, Hamm said, "We recognized back in 2015, when we were working to lift the export ban, that American light sweet oil would be a good fit for these refineries, especially in Europe and Asia.

"The current $6 discount to Brent should not exist, given the consistency and high quality of WTI, as well as relative shipping costs," he continued. "Stabilized U.S. production and increasing industry sales of American crude to international markets will drive down U.S. inventories, correcting much of the recent disparity between Brent and WTI prices. Modern modes of transport in the crude oil sector today eliminate price disparities between markets and allow free markets to work."

Based in Oklahoma City, Continental is a top-15 independent oil producer in the U.S. It’s the largest leasehold in the Bakken shale play of North Dakota and Montana. The company also has significant positions in Oklahoma, including its SCOOP Woodford, SCOOP Springer and SCOOP Sycamore discoveries and the STACK plays.