(Updates with company comment beginning in second paragraph.)
Feb. 2 (Bloomberg) -- BP Plc has started shipping crude oil westward on the trans-Panama pipeline, the company said in an e- mailed statement.
BP will ship 100,000 barrels a day to Panama’s Pacific Coast port of Charco Azul, where it will be loaded on tankers bound for U.S. West Coast refineries. Crude oil tankers too large to traverse the Panama Canal usually go around Cape Horn, according to the statement.
BP also leased 5.4 million barrels of storage on the Caribbean and Pacific coasts from the pipeline operator, Petroterminal de Panama, the company said.
The storage on both coasts and the westward flow of oil “will provide U.S. West Coast refiners with more diverse and flexible supply options,” Paul Reed, chief executive of BP’s integrated supply and trading organization, said in the statement. “This overland route greatly reduces transit times and lowers freight costs for many of our customers.”
The trans-Panama pipeline’s capacity is 600,000 barrels a day, the company said.
The pipeline was built in 1982 to ship Alaska North Slope crude to refineries in U.S. Gulf Coast and the Caribbean, according to the Energy Department. The pipeline was shut down in 1996, and the flow reversal was completed in 2009.
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