A second shipment of crude from a U.S. Gulf of Mexico offshore field has sailed for Germany, according to vessel tracking data and trade sources on Tuesday, as European refiners test potential replacements for Russian oil.
Europe is aiming to cut 90% of its Russian oil imports by the end of this year. Refiners are expected to look to Norway, the Middle East, the United States and West Africa for alternative supplies, according to analysts.
The hunt for substitutes has led in two recent instances to Mars, a U.S. sour grade similar to Russia's Urals.
The Ise Princess tanker loaded Mars Sour crude off the Louisiana coast and is on its way to the Baltic Sea port of Rostock, Germany, according to Refinitiv Eikon ship tracking and sources.
The second ship of Mars crude in a month is carrying about 570,000 barrels and due in Rostock Aug. 30, shipping data showed.
Shell, which operates the oilfield that produces Mars crude, declined to comment.
Rostock connects via pipeline to two northern Germany oil refineries - PCK in Schwedt and TotalEnergies in Leuna.
The first tanker of Mars sour crude discharged in Rostock earlier this month for the 233,000 barrel-per-day PCK Schwedt refinery majority-owned by Russian state firm Rosneft, with Shell and Eni holding minority stakes.
Rosneft last week warned that fuel prices in Germany would likely jump if PCK replaces Russian oil with more expensive, seaborne non-Russian barrels. It did not reply to a request for a comment this week.
Both PCK's Schwedt and TotalEnergies' Leuna refineries have received Russia's main crude grade, medium sour Urals, through the Druzbha pipeline in compliance with EU sanctions.
Grades like Mars tend to produce more distillate fuels such as diesel, jet fuel and gasoil, than gasoline. Germany depends on Russia as a major source of diesel.
(Reuters - Reporting by Arathy Somasekhar and Julia Payne; Additional reporting by Shadia Nasralla and Stephanie Kelly; Editing by Marguerita Choy)