Monday, September 27, 2010

Nigerian crude oil exports to slip in November

* Nigeria to export 2.07 mln bpd in Nov vs 2.13 mln in Oct

* Seventy full/part cargoes to load in Nov vs 76 in Oct

* Pressure on valuations as exports stay above 2.0 mln bpd

(Adds detail, comment)

By Christopher Johnson

LONDON, Sept 27 (Reuters) - Nigerian exports of crude oil will slip in November, loading programmes show, but sales will stay over 2 million barrels per day (bpd) and well above the country's OPEC target, keeping pressure on prices, traders said.

Preliminary schedules show Nigeria plans to export around 2.07 million bpd of crude in November, down slightly from about 2.13 million in October, trade sources said on Monday.

A total of 70 full or part cargoes of Nigerian crude oil will load in November, down from 76 cargoes in October. The biggest export stream will again be for benchmark crude oil Qua Iboe, which will load 11 full cargoes of 950,000 barrels each, compared with 12 cargoes in October.

But the decline in Qua Iboe will be balanced by an increase in exports of Bonny Light, which will load nine cargoes, the highest level since early 2008.

Bonny Light output will 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 sabotaged oil facilities in the Niger Delta.

Production of the gasoline-rich crude has long been hampered by militant sabotage of pipelines and platforms in the Delta region, the heartland of Africa's biggest oil and gas industry.

Bonny Light production peaked at nearly 500,000 bpd in 2005, when it accounted for nearly a fifth of the total crude output from Africa's most populous nation.


Nigerian output had been rising fairly steadily since a government amnesty last year brought a sustained period of peace to the oil-producing Delta, allowing foreign oil companies to repair damaged production facilities and ramp up production.

The amnesty, in which thousands of former militants handed over weapons in return for clemency, has allowed Bonny Light operator Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L: Quote) to repair damaged infrastructure and build a new pipeline. Oilfields operated by units of Exxon Mobil (XOM.N: Quote) and production streams runs by Eni (ENI.MI: Quote) have also had problems, which are now being alleviated.

As much as two thirds of Nigeria's 3 million bpd capacity has on occasion been shut in as a result of militant attacks on oil facilities that increased in intensity from around mid-2006.

Holly Pattenden, head of oil and gas at Business Monitor International, said the amnesty had clearly helped boost output.

"There has been a huge gain from the fact that they (oil companies) have had this window in which to repair long-damaged infrastructure," Pattenden said. "That has certainly had a big impact. We see export potential continuing to rise."

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 Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, a target it has exceeded since February 2009, according to Reuters data.

OPEC agreed on production curbs in 2008 to support falling oil prices, which dropped from a high of nearly $150 a barrel in July 2008 to below $33 in December the same year.

But with U.S. crude oil trading mostly between $70 and $80 per barrel, OPEC members have said they are happy and that there is little incentive to adhere to output limits.

Trade sources say Nigerian crude oil exports could be even higher in the next six months if Exxon is able fully to restore Qua Iboe output, which reached 380,000 bpd earlier this year.

"Nigerian (crude oil) grades have been coming under pressure as exports have increased," said one West African crude trader based in Europe. "There is no shortage of Nigerian and it looks as if supplies will increase if anything." (Reporting by Christopher Johnson; editing by Jane Baird and Alison Birrane)

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