December 19, 2014 / 2:33 PM / 5 years ago

Nigerian Qua oil loadings to fall, helping ease glut

LONDON (Reuters) - Shipments of Nigeria’s largest crude stream will fall by a third in February, a loading programme showed, potentially supporting differentials which have slid to multi-year lows due to a glut.

Nigeria will export 271,000 barrels per day (bpd) of Qua Iboe crude in February, down from 398,000 bpd in January, a schedule provided by a trade source showed on Friday. The oil will be loaded on eight cargoes, five fewer than in January.

The drop comes as Nigerian crude oil differentials have fallen to the lowest in years. The United States, tradionally a big buyer, is importing less due to higher domestic output, and demand in Asia has slowed.

“There is some maintenance taking place,” a trade source said, regarding the drop in Qua shipments. “This could be a blessing in disguise.”

Further details on the maintenance were not immediately available. The U.S. press office of the operator of the Qua Iboe stream, Exxon Mobil, had no immediate comment on any planned work.

A cargo of Qua Iboe is currently worth a premium of 65 cents a barrel to benchmark dated Brent, according to Reuters data, the lowest premium since 2009.

Oil traders estimate between 25 and 30 January-loading cargoes of Nigerian crude - or 25 to 30 million barrels - out of 69 originally available, are still for sale. The release of February loading plans over the next few days will add at least another 50 cargoes.

While supply of Qua Iboe will fall in February, output of Nigeria’s smaller EA stream has resumed and operator Royal Dutch Shell has lifted its force majeure on exports after repairing a mooring platform.

One 950,000-barrel cargo of EA is scheduled to load in February, a trade source said. Output has been shut since June.

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