Bloomberg News

Asia to Cut West African Crude Imports to Five-Month Low

April 19, 2012

Asian refiners will reduce daily imports of West African crude in May by 3.6 percent to the lowest in five months, a survey of five traders and an analysis of loading programs obtained by Bloomberg News showed.

A total of 59 cargoes are scheduled for export from Angola, Nigeria, Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Democratic Republic of Congo and Gabon, one less than in April, according to the survey. This equals 56.1 million barrels, or 1.81 million barrels a day, the lowest since December, compared with 1.88 million this month.

Refiners in Asia can buy Middle Eastern crude or West African grades and their choice normally depends on the value of the lighter, low-sulfur, or sweet, blends from Angola and Nigeria versus heavier, high-sulfur, or sour, grades from Saudi Arabia and Iran. Lighter crude yields more lucrative products such as diesel and gasoline.

“Given the limited size of the decline, I think it is in line with traditional lower demand in the second quarter,” Samuel Ciszuk, a consultant for KBC Asset Management U.K., said yesterday in an e-mail. “Although there might have been some expectations that Asian purchases would have continued to rise as Iranian purchases are cut, we are not surprised that seasonal factors take precedence, since global markets have been very well supplied in any case.”

The Brent-Dubai exchange for swaps, which measures the European benchmark against the Persian Gulf grade, averaged $3.81 in March, up from February’s $3.35 and $3.07 in January, according to data from PVM Oil Associates Ltd. The spread fell to a 14-month low of $2.32 a barrel on Jan. 16.

Reliance Doubles Imports

India bought 17 cargoes for May, one more than this month, according to the survey. Indian Oil Corp., the nation’s largest refiner, cut its purchases to six shipments from nine in April. Reliance Industries Ltd. (RIL), which owns the world’s largest refining complex, doubled its imports to eight cargoes, the most in at least 10 months, the survey showed.

Chinese refiners purchased 35 cargoes for loading in May, one more than April, the survey showed. China International United Petroleum & Chemical Corp., known as Unipec, bought 24 shipments compared with 23 for this month.

CPC Corp., Taiwan’s state-owned oil company, reduced its purchases by half to three cargoes, while Indonesia’s state- owned PT Pertamina bought three cargoes, one more than this month, according to the survey.

Less Nigerian Oil

Asian refineries will import 370,774 barrels a day of Nigerian crude, the least since December, the survey showed.

The U.S., the largest buyer of Nigerian crude, cut its import from Africa’s largest producer to 449,000 barrels a day in January, the least in more than five years, compared with 968,000 barrels a year earlier, according to the data from the Department of Energy.

Nigerian benchmark Qua Iboe was at a premium of $1.79 a barrel to Dated Brent today, the lowest since Nov. 23, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Nigeria will export 2.24 million barrels a day of crude next month while Angola will ship 1.7 million barrels, Bloomberg calculations based on loading programs showed.

The following tables show details of planned Asian imports. Most cargoes are for 950,000 to 1 million barrels. All the volumes are in barrels a day.

---------------------------------------------------------------
Countries   Number of Cargoes   Total Volume
            May       April     May         April
China       35        34        1,077,065   1,083,333
India       17        16          525,484     489,000
Taiwan       3         6           93,548     191,167
Indonesia    3         2           93,548      59,667
Japan        1         1           20,968      21,667
Malaysia     0         1                0      33,333
---------------------------------------------------------------

Month            Cargoes   Total       Angola        Nigeria
2012
May                59      1,810,613   1,147,581     370,774
April              60      1,878,167   1,214,167     424,000
March              61      1,837,258   1,081,452     401,613
February           66      2,151,034   1,357,586     496,552
January            61      1,826,935   1,056,613     461,290

2011
December           47      1,433,387     993,710     279,032
November           49      1,554,500   1,028,500     285,000
October            49      1,507,742     962,581     308,065
September          42      1,344,333     930,167     287,500
August             50      1,536,613     931,774     387,097
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To contact the reporter on this story: Sherry Su in London at lsu23@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Voss at sev@bloomberg.net


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