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.
IBEDC Disconnects UCH Over N500m Debt, Critical Services Affected
The University College Hospital (UCH) in Ibadan, Oyo State, experienced a disruption in its power supply after the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC) disconnected the hospital over a debt amounting to N500 million.
Dr. Jesse Otegbayo, the Chief Medical Director of UCH, confirmed the disconnection but refrained from elaborating on the exact cause.
IBEDC’s spokesperson, Busolami Tunwase, acknowledged the outstanding debt owed by UCH but denied that the disconnection was intentional.
Tunwase stated that while UCH owed the substantial amount, the power outage was due to a technical fault in the area, coinciding with the debt situation.
Despite repeated attempts to engage UCH in discussions to settle the debt, IBEDC had resorted to disconnection as a last resort.
The disconnection poses significant challenges to UCH’s critical services, affecting patient care and hospital operations.
While IBEDC emphasized its understanding of the hospital’s importance and commitment to resolving the issue amicably, the situation underscores the financial strains faced by healthcare institutions and the essential need for reliable power supply.
Efforts to negotiate and find a resolution between UCH and IBEDC are ongoing to restore normal operations and ensure uninterrupted healthcare services.
Oil and Gas Dealers Threaten Withdrawal as 70% of Downstream Businesses Collapse
The downstream oil sector in Nigeria faces a looming crisis as oil and gas dealers, represented by the Natural Oil and Gas Suppliers Association of Nigeria (NOGASA), issue a stern warning of potential service withdrawal.
In a recent resolution following their executive committee meeting in Abuja, NOGASA expressed grave concerns over the collapse of approximately 70% of businesses in the industry due to the harsh operating environment.
President of NOGASA, Benneth Korie, highlighted the dire situation, emphasizing the challenges faced by oil marketers in funding operations amidst soaring bank interest rates.
Korie underscored the overwhelming burden faced by operators who are compelled to acquire funds at exorbitant interest rates upwards of 30%, exacerbating financial strain and hindering business viability.
The primary demand voiced by NOGASA is the pegging of the foreign exchange rate at N750/$ to facilitate refinery operations and stimulate the production of refined products domestically.
Failure to address these pressing issues, Korie warned, could result in the withdrawal of services by NOGASA’s over 200 members starting from the next month.
The downstream oil crisis coincides with heightened anticipation for the release of refined petroleum products from the Dangote and Port Harcourt refineries, seen as critical for alleviating supply shortages nationwide.
However, amidst forex crises and inflationary pressures, operators in the oil and gas sector confront mounting economic challenges, necessitating urgent government intervention.
As Nigeria navigates through turbulent economic waters, stakeholders eagerly await decisive action from authorities to salvage the downstream oil sector from imminent collapse and avert potential disruptions in fuel supply chains.
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