Houston, 5 August (Argus) — The US has sent what appears to be its first ever crude cargo to key Opec producer Saudi Arabia, according to the US Census Bureau.

A 550,000 bl cargo left the US Gulf coast in June for Saudi Arabia, according to the latest available government statistics released today. This would mark the first crude shipment to that destination since the US Congress lifted decades-old restrictions on exports in December 2015, although the cargo has yet to discharge.

US crude cargo to Saudi Arabia - That's something you don't see everyday - oilandgas

Matterhorn Spirit – Built in 2005

The Aframax tanker Matterhorn Spirit partially loaded around 30 June in Houston, Texas, and finished loading mid-July at the Canary Islands near Europe before traveling to the Suez Canal, according to vessel tracking data.

The tanker was originally destined for Singapore and is now at anchor near the Red Sea port of Jeddah, where market participants say Saudi Arabia imports fuel oil. It has not discharged, indicating the cargo may also be in temporary floating storage.

The commodity on the Matterhorn Spirit could not be immediately confirmed.

Preliminary data from analytics firm Vortexa indicates the tanker loaded crude between 30 June and 3 July at the Houston Fuel Oil Terminal (HOFTCO), which can load fuel oil as well as light sweet crude grades like West Texas Intermediate (WTI), Bakken or Eagle Ford.

The tanker is expected to discharge around 14 August, according to Vortexa.

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