The 1,054-foot tanker Astro Lupus has arrived in Houston with the first ever cargo of Russian crude oil and a message.
The shipment is part of Russia's effort to reclaim its perch as the world's largest oil producer, a title held before the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The sale also is a sign of Russian President Vladimir Putin's drive to strengthen economic and political ties with the US and loosen the grip of Middle East oil producers on the world energy markets.
“The longer term goal for Russia is to get new markets, and politically the moment is right,'' said Jennifer DeLay, who studies Russia's oil industry for Energy Security Analysis in Wakefield, Massachusetts. “The ultimate goal is to participate in the US market because the US is the biggest importer.”
The Yukos Oil Company, Russia's second largest oil company, plans another five or six shipments similar to the two million barrel cargo hauled by the Astro Lupus to test the profitability of such transactions. ExxonMobil, the world's largest oil company, is buying the load.