ALASKAN REFINERY DELIVERS GASOLINE TO DISTRIBUTOR IN RUSSIAN FAR EAST

ALASKAN REFINERY DELIVERS GASOLINE TO DISTRIBUTOR IN RUSSIAN FAR EAST

An Alaska refinery recently delivered its first shipment of gasoline to the Russian Far East aboard a Russian tanker.

The vessel hauled about 60,000 barrels of gasoline to Kamchatka, a peninsula northeast of Sakhalin Island. The gas was refined by Tesoro Alaska Petroleum Co. in Nikiski, Alaska, and shipped out of the company's North Kenai dock earlier this month.The $2 million shipment was sold to Kamchatnefteproeukta, a petroleum distributor that will resell the gas to local filling stations.

About 80 percent of Tesoro's crude oil comes from Alaska's North Slope, which is still under an export ban, although Congress is moving on legislation to end it. That restriction does not apply to refined petroleum products, however.

Tesoro officials called the export venture a big first step in the company's efforts to expand its markets beyond Alaska and the U.S. West Coast. Tesoro makes about 12,000 to 14,000 barrels of gasoline a day at the Nikiski refinery, with most of it sold to filling stations around Alaska. Any excess is shipped to the West Coast.

Russia gives Tesoro another sales option when prices are low elsewhere, said Ray Measles, refinery marketing manager. "Without this, we were locked into the West Coast market," he said.

The tanker, a double-hulled, ice-class vessel, was certified in June by the Coast Guard to operate in U.S. coastal waters, said Mr. Measles.

Tesoro said the vessel will load gasoline about every four to six weeks.

It's not the company's first foray into Russia: It shipped diesel fuel to Russia last summer and in 1990 designed and built five filling stations in Vladivostok for a Russian company.