By Roseline Okere and Sulaimon Salau
THE United States' import of crude oil from Nigeria and Algeria have declined by 93 per cent since 2010, the U.S Energy Information Administration (IEA), has said.
Meanwhile, Nigeria's oil production may have recorded a major setback, as the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) shut its Trans-Niger Pipeline (TNP), which supplies products to the Bonny export terminal.
The IEA in a media statement Monday, said total U.S. crude oil imports have declined since 2010, with nearly the entire decline occurring in light sweet grades.
Indeed, the U.S did not import crude oil from Nigeria in the month of July and August this year.
The U.S. has been steadily cutting oil imports from Nigeria because of U.S. shale oil production, which is low in sulphur and otherwise called "light, sweet," similar to Nigeria's "Bonny Light" oil.
This resulted to the decline in the country's crude oil export. For example, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) put Nigeria's crude oil export in May this year at 1.88mbp; June, 1.71mbd and 1.61mbp in July.
It noted that through August 2014, U.S. light crude imports have fallen 71 per cent compared to the level in 2010.
It noted that the U.S. net crude oil imports in 2013 declined 10.2 per cent to 7.6 million barrels per day (bblpd), the lowest level since 1996, as rising domestic crude oil production cut into the volume of imports needed to meet refinery demand for crude oil.
Confirming the TNP shut-in yesterday, the oil multinational, said the pipeline that carries the Bonny light was shut after it discovered a leak on Saturday.
This is coming as the nation prepares for the possible effects of dwindling crude oil prices at the international market. As at yesterday, the oil prices stood at $75.42 per barrel, according to the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
The pipeline carries one of Nigeria's main export grades, Bonny Light. About six cargoes of the crude are exported monthly, equivalent of about 180,000 to 200,000 barrels per day.
"SPDC is investigating the source of a leak at Okolo Launch in Eastern Niger Delta which occurred near the 24-inch and the 28-inch TNP (Trans-Niger Pipeline)," shell said in an e-mail statement to Reuters.
"The leak occurred near where one of our contractors was preparing to remove crude theft connections on the line. On noticing the leak on November 22, we deployed booms and also shut in the 28-inch TNP."
The 24-inch pipeline has been shut since Oct. 18 last year for repair and integrity checks, the spokesman added.
Meanwhile, Nigeria is estimated to have exported 70.14 million barrels of oil including condensate in August, or an average 2.26 million barrels per day (bpd), which was 12.4 per cent higher month on month.
Data from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), also established that Europe remained the biggest destination of Nigerian crude, with the United States accounting for 30,779 bpd as against zero in July.
"Four regions, namely Europe, South America, Asia and Africa, remain the major destinations of Nigerian crude and condensate export," NNPC said.
Oil production rose 6.8 per cent in August on month on month to 2.20 million bpd.
For the second month running, ExxonMobil was assessed the biggest producer, accounting for or 435,644 bpd, followed by Anglo/Dutch Shell with 255,049 bpd.
According to the corporation, gas production stood at 226.26 billion cubic feet, while the amount of gas flaring from the oil fields rose to 17.3 per cent of total production, compared with 13.1 per cent in July.
Nigeria's four refineries operated at an average of 16 per cent of their combined nameplate capacity of 445,000 bpd in August, down from 22 per cent in July.