Nigeria loses as US oil attracts more buyers

Nigeria has lost some of its market share in Europe, its biggest regional market, as crude oil exports from the United States penetrate more destinations.

The US had in December 2015 removed the 40-year-old restrictions on its crude exports following the rapid growth of its oil production from 2013 to 2015.

The US Energy Information Administration said on Tuesday that the country exported crude oil to 26 different countries in 2016, compared with 10 countries the previous year.

Among the countries were buyers of Nigeria crude including Netherlands, China, Italy, the United Kingdom, Colombia, Singapore, Peru, France and Spain.

The US crude oil exports averaged 520,000 barrels per day in 2016, 55,000 bpd or 12 per cent above the 2015 level, despite a year-over-year decline in domestic crude oil production, the EIA said.

According to the agency, in 2015, 92 per cent of the US crude oil exports went to Canada, which was exempt from the US crude oil export restrictions. After restrictions were lifted, Canada remained the top destination but received only 58 per cent of the US crude exports in 2016.

The EIA said, “Aside from Canada, European destinations such as the Netherlands, Italy, the United Kingdom, and France rank high on the list of the US crude oil export destinations.

“The second-largest regional destination is Asia, including China, Korea, Singapore, and Japan. In 2016, the United States exported to eight different Central and South American destinations, including Curacao, Colombia, and Peru.”

The Netherlands, which is one of the biggest European buyers of Nigerian crude, received 38,000 bpd of the US crude oil in 2016, making it the second-largest destination after Canada.

The country’s monthly import of Nigerian crude oil plunged to an average of 3.7 million barrels last year, up from 9.1 million barrels in 2015, data from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation showed.

Italy bought 23,000 bpd of the US crude oil; China imported 22,000 bpd, while the UK and Colombia purchased 17,000 bpd and 9,000bpd, respectively.

Singapore received 11,000 bpd of the US crude oil; Peru, 7,000 bpd; France, 7,000 and Spain bought 4,000 bpd, the EIA data indicated.

Spain saw its monthly import of Nigerian crude fall to an average of 4.7 million barrels in 2016 from 6.1 million barrels, while that of France averaged 3.4 million barrels compared to 4.1 million barrels in 2015, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation’s data showed.

According to the EIA, several factors appear to have contributed to the rise in the US crude oil exports in 2016.

It said increased crude oil imports in 2016 substituted for some domestic crude oil at the US refineries, allowing higher exports despite lower US production and increased refinery runs.

 Low tanker rates for most of 2016 helped to narrow the price spread needed to allow for an economically attractive trade between the US and overseas markets.

“With the average daily volume of crude imports more than 12 times the average daily volume of crude exports, many tankers were available for ‘back-haul’ voyages at rates significantly below regular tanker rates, likely further reducing the cost of reaching export markets,” the EIA said.

Meanwhile, Nigeria’s crude oil exports are set to rise to 1.66 million bpd in May, according to a loading programme compiled by Reuters on Tuesday.

The country’s crude oil programme for the month is up from April’s revised loadings and puts Nigeria just above Angola’s planned exports of 1.61 million bpd in May.

While Nigeria had consistently been Africa’s largest oil exporter, its loadings have fallen below those of Angola several times over the past year as it dealt with militant attacks on oil infrastructure in the Niger Delta.

The increase to 54 May cargoes from 52 in April, or 1.61 million bpd, came in part from rising exports of Bonga and Antan, both of which were hit earlier in the year for scheduled maintenance.

Credit PUNCH.

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