April 28, 2011 / 12:53 PM / 9 years ago

UPDATE 1-Nigerian oil exports to hit six-month high in June

* Nigeria to export about 2.15 million bpd crude oil in June

* Highest exports since December, provisional data show

* Up from 2.03-2.06 million bpd in April and May

* More cargoes of benchmark Bonny Light, Forcados, Agbami

(Updates detail throughout)

By Emma Farge and Christopher Johnson

LONDON, April 28 (Reuters) - Nigeria will export the highest volume of crude oil for six months in June as its oil industry benefits from strong demand, a period of relative calm and fewer attacks on pipelines and other infrastructure.

Total Nigerian crude exports were expected to be around 2.15 million barrels per day (bpd) in June, up from 2.03 million bpd due in May and 2.06 million bpd sold in April, according to trade estimates based on provisional loading programmes.

The increase would take sales from Nigeria, Africa’s biggest oil exporter and a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, back to levels not seen since December when just over 2.15 million bpd was exported.

The higher export volumes reflect an increase in the number of cargoes loading with benchmark Bonny Light, as well as extra cargoes of Forcados and the ultra-light crude oil, Agbami, the loading schedules show.

Bonny Light is a high quality crude oil grade with a good yield of light products such as gasoline, and is much sought after by oil refiners because of its very low content of polluting sulphur compounds.

Seven Bonny Light cargoes will load almost 222,000 bpd in June, up from six cargoes loading an average of around 184,000 bpd in May, trade sources say.

LIBYAN REPLACEMENT

Like many other Nigerian crude oil grades, Bonny light is considered a good replacement for Libyan crude oil that has been largely absent from the world oil spot market over the last couple of months due to the fighting in the country.

Seven cargoes of Forcados will also load in June, up from six in May, while eight Agbami cargoes will sail, up from six scheduled for May.

Nigerian crude oil volumes in May were also lower due to less availability of the EA and Amenam grades, shipping lists show. In February and March, maintenance at several key oilfields kept exports below 2 million bpd.

Traders said the higher volume of exports in June reflected both higher demand for Nigerian crudes in the absence of significant Libyan exports, and also less disruption of the onshore oil industry in recent months.

Attacks by militants in the oil-rich Niger Delta have restricted production over the last few years but a reduction in political tension has led to fewer attacks this year.

Extra demand helped push premiums for Bonny Light and the other Nigerian benchmark, Qua Iboe, over North Sea dated Brent to two-and-a-half year highs near $4.50 last month and trade sources expect it to remain strong with European refineries returning from seasonal maintenance.

As an OPEC member, Nigeria has an oil production target of 1.67 million bpd but has not been inside that level for almost two years, trade and industry figures show.

State producer Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. (NNPC) has said it is within its OPEC output target and its combined crude and condensate production is around 2.4 million bpd. It has given no breakdown or details. (Editing by William Hardy)

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