BY: Moses olajuwon Obajemu
The United States has targeted European market by flooding it with its crude oil thereby threatening to displace the region’s traditional light, sweet crudes, forcing sellers of Nigerian and Mediterranean crudes to discount September-loading cargoes.
S&P Global Platts quoted traders on Wednesday as saying that the spot market for September-loading cargoes from Nigeria had not seen any activity for more than two weeks.
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They said would-be buyers in Europe were waiting for offers to fall further, reassured also by the absence of Asian interest.
According to traders, the price for one of Nigeria’s crude oil grades, Qua Iboe, for example, was approached Dated Brent minus 50 cents per barrel in an August 7 tender by South Africa’s Sasol, which would imply the grade lands in Europe at a significant discount to Azeri Light.
Of that total, WTI Midland accounted for 414,000 bpd, as limited demand for WTI into Asia pushed more of it into Europe.
The same slowdown in crude buying in Asia has also led to a greater amount of North Sea, Mediterranean and Nigerian oil in Europe, putting prices under further stress.
US oil is expected to continue flowing into the region in August.
The flow of US crude represents a significant challenge for sellers of Nigerian crude in particular, given that the country’s mainstay grades, such as Qua Iboe and Bonny Light, have been shunned by the usual big buyers in Asia.
“Sellers are in a looking-for-bids mode…they don’t see any demand at all,” said one market source, referring to Qua Iboe, which has been under-performing due to its higher light end cut.
“Light crudes are really taking a step down with ample Midland around,” another trader said, pointing to the length still available on Nigeria’s 1.5 million bpd September programme, and with just a week to go before October trading would usually commence.
“All the grades are competing…nothing is moving,” another source said.
The competitive environment has also put pressure on local Mediterranean sweet crudes such as Azeri Light, Saharan Blend and CPC Blend.
Indian Oil Corporation, the country’s largest state-run refiner, has reduced its run rate to 75 per cent across its nine refineries, from 93 per cent in the first week of July.