By Christopher Johnson
LONDON, Feb 24 (Reuters) – Nigerian oil exports will jump to their highest
level in four months in April as output from a new crude stream starts to flow,
traders and shipping sources said on Friday.
The increase in Nigerian oil production, much of it high quality with low
levels of contaminants such as corrosive sulphur compounds, will help meet any
shortfall from disruptions to supplies from South Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
Africa’s top oil producer is expected to sell around 1.96 million barrels
per day (bpd) in April in 70 full or part cargoes, up from 1.87 million bpd in
65 cargoes in March, the sources quoted provisional loading programmes as
Nigeria’s new Usan offshore oilfield will contribute most of the extra
oil in April, pumping almost 100,000 bpd, the programmes show.
The field, operated by France’s Total SA, is expected to reach four to
five cargoes per month, or about 130,000-160,000 bpd, this year and have a total
capacity of up to 180,000 bpd.
Total said on Friday it had started production at Usan on schedule.
Traders expected initial volumes to be stored and the first vessels to load in
about six weeks.
Total, U.S. major ExxonMobil and commodities trader Glencore will load
the first cargoes, totalling almost 3 million barrels. The Total and ExxonMobil
cargoes will both be sold by tender, traders said.
Provisional loading programmes are often revised after their initial
release and some West African traders believe total crude oil loadings in April
could eventually prove to be more than 2 million bpd.
The loading figures for April do not include condensate, which has been
running at around 600,000 bpd, traders and officials have said.
Nigerian oil production and exports have been disrupted consistently over
the last few years by theft from onshore oil facilities and until recently by
attacks on pipelines by anti-government rebels, especially in the Niger Delta,
home of some of the older onshore fields.
Royal Dutch Shell declared ‘force majeure’ on its Nigerian Bonny Light
crude oil exports in early January after what a company spokesman said was theft
from one of its main oil trunk lines in the Nembe Creek in the Delta.
But attacks and other disruptions have been less frequent over the last
year, despite a wave of strikes and protests in January protesting against the
removal of fuel subsidies by the government of President Goodluck Jonathan.
Nigeria’s key Qua Iboe benchmark crude stream will export about 380,000
bpd in April, up from 368,000 bpd in March. The country’s other key crude oil
production stream, Bonny Light, will load around 163,000 bpd, up from 156,000
bpd in March.
(Editing by James jukwey) Keywords: NIGERIA OIL/EXPORTS
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