(Adds company comment)
HOUSTON, April 14 (Reuters) - Exxon Mobil is shipping a cargo of crude produced from its deepwater Julia field in the Gulf of Mexico to its refinery in Rotterdam, Netherlands, marking the first export of offshore oil to leave a U.S. port since a ban was lifted.
The crude came from initial well tests conducted on the Julia project, Aaron Stryk, a company spokesman, said in an emailed statement on Thursday.
The oil company is sending a modest 18,000 barrels of oil on a Panamax tanker, the PGC Marina, according to a bill of lading published at Bloomberg terminals and Thomson Reuters vessel tracking data. Refiners typically do tests to see how new crudes will impact yields from making fuels.
While only a small volume, the cargo is the first known export of offshore oil from the United States since Congress lifted a ban last December. Until now, all other shipments had been of light onshore oil.
The vessel departed from Gramercy, Louisiana, in early April and is expected to arrive in Rotterdam on April 19, according to the data.
It was not clear whether Exxon would continue to export Julia crude, but the firm anticipates an initial production of 34,000 barrels per day (bpd) following the startup of the field in the second quarter of this year, according to its website.
Initial testing on the Julia field, a joint venture between Norway's Statoil and Exxon Mobil located roughly 200 miles south of New Orleans, Louisiana, began in March. .
Commissioning activities are underway for the startup of the field, Stryk said in an email. Two wells are completed, and the company is in the process of drilling a third well. (Reporting by Liz Hampton; additional reporting Marianna Parraga; Editing by Franklin Paul, Terry Wade and Diane Craft)