- Niger Delta Sabotage Cuts OPEC Output
OPEC oil output in December fell from a record high ahead of a deal to cut production, a Reuters survey has shown.
The survey published today said the output cut was assisted by attacks on Nigeria’s oil industry and top exporter Saudi Arabia trimming exports.
The decline, the first since May according to Reuters surveys, occurred despite higher exports from second-largest OPEC producer Iraq and a further upward trend in Libyan output.
Supply from OPEC in December fell to 34.18 million barrels per day (bpd) from a revised 34.38 million bpd in November, according to the survey based on shipping data and information from industry sources.
Oil hit an 18-month high of $58.37 a barrel on Tuesday, boosted by an OPEC agreement to lower supply from Jan. 1.
The supportive impact of the agreement on prices may not occur straight away, an analyst at SEB said.
“We are not necessarily set for an immediate price take-off. One problem is the very high OPEC production in fourth-quarter 2016,” said Bjarne Schieldrop, chief commodities analyst at SEB. “The still-rising crude oil production in Libya is also creating concerns that OPEC’s cuts might be less effective.”
Based on the December survey, OPEC is pumping 1.68 million bpd above the 32.50 million bpd production target that it agreed on Nov. 30 to adopt from Jan. 1 in its first supply cut decision in eight years.
OPEC output started to climb following its decision in late 2014 to retain market share rather than cut supply to prop up prices. Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran all pumped more and production also increased due to the return of Indonesia in 2015 and Gabon in July 2016 as OPEC members.
In December, the biggest reduction came from Nigeria, although not as a result of deliberate cuts to boost prices.
No Forcados crude was exported following an attack on a pipeline, and shipments of the Agbami stream fell most likely due to planned maintenance work, sources in the survey said.
Nigeria and Libya are both exempt from the OPEC supply cut agreement because of output losses caused by conflict.
Nigerian militant group Niger Delta Avengers said in November it had attacked the Forcados pipeline.
Saudi Arabia, which said it pumped a record amount in November, supplied less in December, sources in the survey estimated. Exports were lower because customers asked for less crude, not because of cutbacks implemented under the OPEC deal.
“Exports are down markedly from a massive November number,” said one source who tracks Saudi output. “The bottom line is December is down from November with regard to supply to market.”
Among countries with higher output, the largest increase of 70,000 bpd was in Libya, where a two-year blockade was lifted in December on pipelines leading from two western fields. The recovery remains at risk from political conflict.
Output also climbed in Iraq, the survey found, with exports from the country’s south most likely exceeding November’s record rate of 3.407 million bpd, according to shipping data and industry sources.
Iran, which was allowed to raise output under the OPEC deal as sanctions had crimped its supply, pumped 30,000 bpd more.
The Reuters survey is based on shipping data provided by external sources, Thomson Reuters flows data, and information provided by sources at oil companies, OPEC and consulting firms.
The Drop in US Crude Oil Inventories Boosted Oil Prices on Wednesday
Crude oil prices rose on Wednesday following a decline in US crude inventories last week.
The American Petroleum Institute (API) had reported that United States crude oil inventories declined by 5.3 million barrels in the week ended January 22, 2021, more than a reduction of 430,000 barrels predicted by a Reuters poll.
The unexpected decline, coupled with slowing new COVID-19 cases in China, the world’s largest importer of crude oil, boosted oil prices on Wednesday.
Brent crude, against which Nigerian crude oil is measured, rose by 41 cents or 0.7 percent to $56.32 per barrel.
The U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil also gained 56 cents or 1 percent to $53.17 a barrel.
“WTI is slightly firmer on the back of a larger-than-expected draw in US crude inventories reported by the API, which is offset by builds in gasoline and distillates,” said Vandana Hari, oil market analyst at Vanda Insights.
The data, however, showed petrol inventories grew by 3.1 million barrels in the week, more than experts projected.
Similarly, API data revealed that distillate fuel inventories that include diesel and heating oil, jumped by 1.4 million barrels, far higher than the 361,000 barrels decline predicted. However, refinery runs declined by 76,000 barrels per day.
“Market participants are now in ‘wait and see’ mode, wanting to see how lockdowns evolve in the coming weeks and months, and how successful countries are in rolling out Covid-19 vaccines,” ING economics said in a note.
COVID-19 Plunges Nigeria’s Oil Revenue by 41% in the First Nine Months of 2020
Nigeria’s oil revenue declined by 41.44 percent in the first nine months of 2020 to $2.033 billion, according to the latest data from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC.
This represents a decline of 41.44 percent from $3.47 billion filed in the same period of 2019 when there was no COVID-19.
In the September 2020 edition of NNPC’s Monthly Financial and Operations Report (MFOR), revenue from oil and gas rose by 16 percent to $120.49 million in the month of September, a 66 percent or $234.81 million drop from $355.3 million posted in the same month of 2019.
The global lockdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic plunged Nigeria’s crude oil sales and global demand for the commodity. This was further compounded by Nigeria’s high cost of production compared to Saudi Arabia, Russia and others that were offering discounts to boost sales during one of the most challenging periods in human history.
Experts like Prof. Yinka Omorogbe, President of Nigeria Association of Energy Economics, NAEE, were not surprised with the drop in earnings given the effect of COVID-19 on the world’s economy.
She, however, called for the revamp of the nation’s petroleum sector laws and diversification of the economy away from oil revenue dependence. She said “Covid-19 made 2020 a very hot year and it battered the oil industry internationally and we are not an exception; so we could not have been unaffected”.
She also said the effect of the fall “is definitely a wake-up call; we have to diversify, strengthen our other resources and capabilities”.
Omorogbe, a former NNPC Board Secretary, urged the government and the operators in the sector to look inward and think strategically, stating: “think medium term, think of where they want to be and the government, above all, must think of how best we can utilize our resources, so that we can achieve our objectives once we know and define them.
“It is a clear wake-up call, if not we will just sit here and find that we have become one of the poorest nations in the world”, she noted.
Crude Oil, Other Commodities Closing Price for Monday
Brent crude oil, Nigeria’s crude oil benchmark, gained 47 cents to $55.88 per barrel on Monday, while the US crude oil expanded by 50 cents to $52.77 per barrel.
Gold for February delivery fell $1 to $1,855.20 an ounce. Silver for March delivery fell 7 cents to $25.48 an ounce and March copper was little changed at $3.63 a pound.
The dollar fell to 103.80 Japanese yen from 103.83 yen. The euro fell to $1.2139 from $1.2167.
Wholesale gasoline for February delivery rose 1 cent to $1.56 a gallon. February heating oil rose 2 cents to $1.59 a gallon. February natural gas rose 16 cents to $2.60 per 1,000 cubic feet.
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