China's CNOOC to Load First Cargo of Guyanese Oil Soon

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China's state-controlled oil company CNOOC Ltd is scheduled to load in the coming days its first cargo of crude from Guyana's offshore Liza oil project, the South American country's Director of Energy Mark Bynoe said.

CNOOC has a 25% stake in the massive Stabroek block as part of a consortium with operator Exxon Mobil Corp and U.S. firm Hess Corp. The companies began production in December and have discovered more than 8 billion barrels of recoverable resources, which could transform Guyana's economy.

The New Melody tanker is expected to load up to 1 million barrels of sweet, light Liza crude for CNOOC when it arrives at the consortium's floating production, storage and offloading platform (FPSO) - some 190 kilometers (118 miles) off Guyana's coast - around March 24, according to Refinitiv Eikon data.

The very large crude carrier (VLCC), with a capacity of around 2 million barrels, departed Colombia's Covenas port on Wednesday evening after loading around 1.1 million barrels, the data show.

The tanker's destination is yet unclear.

The New Melody had approached the FPSO earlier this month but left without loading due to a change in the loading window, Bynoe said.

"Since this is a VLCC, she picked up some cargo and on her way back... she will collect the remainder of her cargo," he told Reuters.

The New Melody will be the fifth tanker to load Guyanese crude. Exxon, which has a 45% stake in the Stabroek block, has taken two cargoes of some 1 million barrels each, while the government - which last year awarded Royal Dutch Shell a tender to sell the first three cargoes it is entitled to under the contract - has so far taken two cargoes.

(Reporting by Luc Cohen and Marianna Parraga, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien)

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