Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Nigeria: FG to Raise Crude Oil Export in December


The Federal Government is to increase exports of Nigeria's benchmark crude oil grade, the Qua Iboe, in December by selling 13 cargoes up from the 11 scheduled to load in November in a bid to shore up the country's sagging economy.

The move to raise Nigeria's crude oil export came just as former BP Plc's Chief Executive Officer, Mr. John Browne's Riverstone Management Limited, is leading a group of bidders for $4 billion worth of Nigerian oil fields being offered for sale by Royal Dutch Shell Plc.

Trade sources hinted last weekend that all 13 of the December stems would be full cargoes of 950,000 barrels each, bringing Qua Iboe exports to their highest level since March.

Reuters reported that the development would bring the average exports of the grade in December up to almost 400,000 barrels per day (bpd), compared with just below 350,000 bpd in November.

Qua Iboe output was reduced for three months due to a pipeline leak, which led ExxonMobil to declare a force majeure on exports last May.

The force majeure was lifted in August but some cargoes have continued to be delayed, traders and shipping sources said.

Qua Iboe exports were expected to average around 398,000 barrels per day (bpd) in October, up from around 363,000 bpd planned for September, loading programmes had shown.

Output schedules for two of Nigeria's other crude streams also emerged in September with Bonga exports due to rise to 189,000 bpd in October, up from the 158,000 bpd due in September.

Forcados output was due to average 197,000 bpd this month, largely steady from the previous month.

Preliminary loading schedules put the country's crude export at 2.07 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil in November, down slightly from about 2.13 million bpd in October.

A total of 70 full or part cargoes of the nation's crude oil were expected to load in November, down from 76 cargoes in October, trade sources said, quoting preliminary loading schedules.

The source also stated that Bonny Light output would average 285,000 bpd in November, up from 245,000 bpd planned in October and below 130,000 bpd earlier this year, due to repairs to sabotage oil facilities in the Niger Delta region.

Bonny Light production peaked at nearly 500,000 bpd in 2005, when it accounted for nearly a fifth of the total crude output as production of the gasoline-rich crude has long been hampered by militant sabotage of pipelines and platforms in the Delta region.

Nigerian crude exports have risen fairly steadily this year from between 1.90 million and 1.95 million bpd in the first four months to an average of more than 2.10 million so far in the second half of the year.

This puts Nigeria well above its agreed production target of 1.67 million bpd as a member of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), a target it has exceeded since February 2009, according to data.

The increase in Qua Iboe exports is a sign that production of the country's benchmark grade has recovered after the setback mid this year.

Meanwhile, former BP Plc's Chief Executive Officer, Browne, is leading a group of bidders for $4 billion worth of Nigerian oil fields being offered for sale by Royal Dutch Shell Plc.

Shell recently launched a shake-up of its Nigerian operations by offering oil fields for sale in apparent response to Federal Government's plans to pass the Petroleum Reform Bill (PIB), which seeks to impose harsher terms on International Oil Companies (IOCs).

Sunday Times reported yesterday that the oil giant was about to sell four oil fields and that Riverstone Management Limited, which was registered in England and Wales, was leading a consortium of investment firms, KKR and Blackstone Group to acquire the assets.

It also identified other interested bidders to include Nigeria's Oando Plc; Perenco SA; and Addax and Oryx Group Ltd.However, according to the Joint Operating Agreement (JOA) between Shell and its partners - Italy's Eni and France's Total - the partners have the right of first refusal to buy Shell's 30 per cent interest in the fields.

The JOA also provides that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), which holds 55 per cent majority stake in the fields, must approve the deal.

The Federal Government guidelines also require that for any bidder to be successful, it must have a Nigerian as a local partner.

The decision by the government to implement an industry reform and abrogate the Petroleum Act of 1960, under which it granted licences to the IOCs, apparently pitched the multinationals against the government.

The IOCs were further miffed when most of the licences expired and the Federal Government insisted on driving a hard bargain on renewal negotiations.

Chinese National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) recently offered $50 billion for some of the country's crude oil reserves, most of which were still controlled by joint ventures between the NNPC and the multinationals.
Oil Companies Reducing Investment in Nigeria?

Analysts said with Shell's new projects in the United States' Gulf of Mexico and Qatar near completion and the company's souring relations with the Federal Government as a result of some controversial provisions in the PIB, the new chief executive of the oil giant, Mr. Peter Voser, was keen on reducing the company's reliance on Nigeria.

The company is also being confronted with many legal actions over environmental pollution and sabotage of pipelines by host communities, resulting in spilling oil into the environment.

Shell's decision to sell some Nigerian assets was part of a company-wide shake-up.Since he assumed duties in July last year, Voser had "made 15,000 workers reapply for their jobs, re-entered Iraq and put a handful of European refineries up for sale".

The Country Chairman and Managing Director, Shell Nigeria, Mr. Mutiu Sunmonu, noted that SPDC, the oldest energy company in Nigeria, had developed a "long term and continuing commitment to the country, its people and the economy", generating billions of dollars to help fund development and growth.

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