Weak demand for Nigerian crude oil has caused the number of ships without cargoes to rise to levels not seen in recent times.
As a result, the cost of sending crude oil cargoes from West Africa to Northwest Europe on Suezmaxes has dropped to the lowest level in over 14 years, according to Platts data.
The continued force majeure on three Nigerian crude oil grades – Forcados, Qua Iboe and Brass River – has substantially curbed demand for Suezmaxes in the region in recent months, and caused the WAF tonnage list to swell to levels rarely seen by veteran market participants.
Suezmaxes are medium to large-sized ships with a deadweight tonnage of between 120,000 and 200,000. They are the largest marine vessels that meet the restrictions of the Suez Canal, and are capable of transiting the canal in a laden condition.
According to one shipbroker’s position list, there were 32 ships available prior to the start of the current fixing window, versus a three-month average of 14.8 ships. There were also 29 ships that were free of cargo, which could make the WAF fixing window.
The number of ships means that each cargo that is shown to multiple owners attracts multiple offers and allows charterers to drive freight rates downwards.
The WAF-UK Continent route basis 130,000 mt was assessed five points lower at Worldscale 35 on Wednesday. This equates to $5.05/mt, which is the lowest since a $3.95/mt assessment on June 21, 2002.
This came after BP was heard to have placed the Ottoman Tenacity on subjects at w35 for an Angola-Rotterdam voyage on August 27.
Meanwhile, ExxonMobil is said to be working on a plan to export Qua Iboe crude oil, Nigeria’s largest export stream, via an alternate pipeline, while it repairs damage to the main export line sustained in July, sources told Reuters.
The crude oil grade has been under force majeure since mid-July, when the company said it detected a “system anomaly” on the subsea pipeline.
Sources were quoted to have said that the company later found substantial damage that would take at least one to two months to repair, spurring the decision to try to export via a second, smaller pipeline that also feeds the platform.
“We’re continuing to make progress, but we would not speculate on a timeline for repairs,” an Exxon spokesman said, without commenting on the plan to use an alternative pipeline.
The nation’s oil production has been affected by militant action since the beginning of the year, with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation saying pipeline attacks have taken out some 700,000 barrels per day from production that is typically just above two million bpd.
“Exxon is preparing the alternate export line,” one source said, adding that if it was successful, some exports could emerge within two weeks.
Two sources added that Exxon, and the Qua Iboe terminal itself, were not sharing details on the repair progress or export plans for fear of provoking militant attacks on oil infrastructure.
Boeing to Deliver 50 737 MAX Planes to British Airways
International Airlines Group (IAG), the owner of British Airways, on Thursday said it has agreed to purchase 50 Boeing 737 MAX planes. The transaction estimated at $6.25 billion includes a substantial discount and is expected to be delivered between 2023 and 2027, according to a statement issued by the company.
In the statement seen by Investors King, Luis Gallego, the Chief Executive of IAG, said “The addition of new Boeing 737s is an important part of IAG’s short-haul fleet renewal.”
“The deal falls short of a blockbuster non-binding commitment for 200 737 MAX jets placed under former chief executive Willie Walsh at the Paris Airshow 2019 that was a welcome lifeline to Boeing when the model was grounded after two fatal crashes.
“But the firm 737 MAX 10 order from a top-tier customer is an important signal to the market at a time when Boeing faces an increasingly high-stakes battle to win certification of the largest MAX variant before a new safety standard on cockpit alerts takes effect at year-end.”
Boeing’s financial health rests on the resumption of deliveries of 787 Dreamliners and clearing MAX inventories, company executives and analysts have said.
Former IAG’s Chief Financial Officer, Steve Gunning revealed to analysts in November that the airline group would need some additional short-haul aircraft towards 2024 or 2025 and hinted that any order would include the 737 MAX.
IAG, owner of Ireland’s Aer Lingus and Spain’s Iberia and Vueling in addition to British Airways, also has a further 100 purchase options as part of the deal, which is subject to shareholder approval.
IAG is one of the world’s largest airline groups, with a fleet of 531 aircraft. Before the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic it operated to 279 destinations and carried around 118 million passengers each year.
It is a Spanish registered company with shares traded on the London Stock Exchange and Spanish Stock Exchanges.
CISLAC Campaigns For Tobacco Tax Hike
The Federal Ministry of Health, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) has called for a campaign to raise tobacco tax. The aim of this advocacy is to generate income for the health sector and save the lives of Nigerians.
Executive Director, CISLAC, Mr Auwal Rafsanjani said the measure would provide Nigeria with a win-win situation by lowering tobacco product affordability while generating income for development funds. He said that the detrimental effects of tobacco usage had prompted countries such as Nigeria to enact tobacco control measures to reduce tobacco consumption and cost.
“Excise taxes are the most effective tax measure for promoting health because they change the price of a harmful product relative to other goods and can be easily increased over time. Consumption is reduced best with taxes based on specific taxes on unhealthy products such as sticks and packs of cigarettes.
“Closely linked to the issue of tobacco taxation as a control tool, is the issue of safeguarding population health. It is not news, however, that the state of health care delivery in Nigeria remained very abysmal while the world intensified efforts to attain the Sustainable Development Goals,” he said.
Recall that Investors King had earlier reported the World Bank’s call to the Federal Government of Nigeria, urging the government to impose special taxes on alcohol, cigarettes and beverages that are highly sweetened in order to improve primary healthcare conditions in the country.
Investors King gathered that, Shubham Chaudhuri, the Country Director for Nigeria in the World Bank Group, said that an improvement in healthcare in Nigeria will come by taxing the things that are “killing us.” He said that the economic rationale for the action is quite strong if lives are to be saved and a healthier Nigeria achieved.
According to Rafsanjani, African nations convened in April 2001 to address health-care finance issues, which are one of the primary determinants of Universal Health Coverage (UHC), and decided to set aside 15% of their budget for health.
“As the country defaults on budgeting effectively for health, countries of the world are adopting innovative approach to mobilise resources for health financing which is adopting tobacco taxes as an alternative strategy”, he noted.
The study, according to Rafsanjani, was commissioned to investigate the potential of tobacco taxation as a form of income for Nigerian health financing.
He explained that the study’s goal was to give scientific information to help policymakers formulate better policies as Nigeria battled to close the gap in health funding.
Access Holdings Plc to Acquire Majority Stake in First Guarantee Pension Limited
Access Holdings Plc has agreed with First Guarantee Pension Limited to acquire a majority stake in the company in its drive to transform from a narrow banking business into a financial service company.
The leading financial institution stated in a press release obtained by Investors King on Thursday.
According to Access Bank, the transaction is in line with its strategy to evolve into a full-blown financial services company and gain relevant market share across Africa, global monetary centres and beyond banking verticals.
Speaking on the firm’s push to change the banking landscape, Dr. Herbert Wigwe, Group Chief Executive Officer, Access Corporation said “This transaction is a natural evolution for us. Over the last 20 years, we set our sights on and delivered ambitious plans to transform the African financial services landscape focusing on banking and have created the African leading Bank and largest bank by customer base.
“This large customer base both on the wholesale and retail segments makes the pension business a natural fit for the Corporation given its objective of ecosystem optimisation. We will leverage our well-established culture of strong corporate governance, risk management, cutting-edge technology, and digital capabilities to deliver high standards of professionalism in the management of pension assets to the benefit of our stakeholders.”
The firm added that the National Pension Commission and the Central Bank of Nigeria have given their no objection to the transaction.
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