West African oil exports to US set to shrink

Jun 06, 2014 12:00 AM

West African crude oil exports to North America are set to shrink to their lowest on record in June, traders said, as the boom in shale oil further bolsters the United States' energy self-sufficiency.

Three traders said there are likely to be about five cargoes moving to the United States in June, compared with the 10-12 that have moved in earlier months this year. This would represent about 160 000 barrels per day (bpd).

Energy Information Administration (EIA) data showed that combined imports of Angolan and Nigerian oil to the United States peaked at almost 22 million barrels, or 2.06 million bpd, in March 2007 and had fallen to 229 000 bpd in March 2014, the most recently available data.

In its 2014 Annual Energy Outlook, the EIA said that crude oil production would rise to 9.6 million bpd before 2020, from 6.5 million bpd in 2012, a production level not seen since 1970.

Surging shale oil production has pushed crude oil stocks to near the top of the typical range for this time of year and there was an overall 8.8 million-barrel rise in total hydrocarbon inventories.

The traders said that imports to Latin America have risen slightly this year as demand for energy has picked up and overtook imports to North America in the first quarter.

Some of the slack caused by the slump in U.S. imports is being picked up by Asia.

Exports of West African crude oil to Asia are set to rise to 1.93 million bpd in June from 1.72 million bpd in May, a Reuters survey of traders showed on Wednesday.

However, low differentials of competing grades from the Middle East and elsewhere are putting downward pressure on differentials, with the Angolan Girassol grade at its lowest in about six months.

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