Nigeria oil exports in Feb fall vs Dec after OPEC cut

  • Thursday, January 08, 2009 - By Joe Brock
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LONDON (Reuters) - Nigeria is expected to export 1.66 million barrels per day (bpd) of oil in February, steady from January and down 12 percent from December, following OPEC deals to cut output, traders said on Wednesday.

February exports are mostly unchanged from the anticipated 1.65 million bpd in January, and down from 1.88 million bpd in December due to a combination of shipment delays, cancellations and OPEC supply curbs.

The lower shipment schedule versus December from the major African oil exporter adds to signs that members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries are following through on deals to bolster prices.

At a meeting on December 17, OPEC set Nigeria a target to cut production by 320,000 bpd from September 2008 levels starting on January 1, implying a new output limit of 1.67 million bpd, as part of an OPEC accord to remove 2.2 million bpd from world markets.

That came on top of two OPEC agreements since September to lower output by 2 million bpd. State-run Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. had informed customers it would reduce exports following the earlier agreements.

By cutting output, the 12 OPEC members were aiming to build a floor under prices that have dropped by $100 from a July record high above $147 a barrel.

Delays and cancellations as a consequence of militant attacks in the Niger Delta, home to Africa's largest oil and gas industry, has reduced output in Nigeria by a fifth in the last three years.

Italian oil and gas group Eni SpA said on Monday the closure of a pumping station in Nigeria following a spillage incident had reduced oil production by 12,000 bpd. Eni had declared force majeure on its Brass River oil production in December.

In February, three full cargoes and two smaller shipments of Brass River are expected to be loaded, down by around 50,000 bpd from December.

Nigeria's benchmark Bonny Light crude oil has already been under force majeure indefinitely due to underproduction caused by sabotage attacks on oil pipelines run by Royal Dutch Shell.

Traders said they expected three cargoes of Bonny Light to be loaded in February, while Nigeria's other benchmark grade Qua Iboe is expected to ship nine cargoes, or around 305,000 bpd.

On Wednesday, armed men attacked an oil platform belonging to ExxonMobil off the southern Nigerian state of Akwa Ibom, although traders said they did not expect the attack to affect the production of the Qua Iboe crude pumped at the site.

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