LONDON, April 18 (Reuters) - Angolan crude was already selling rapidly and at sky-high prices after the preliminary loading programme for June showed the lowest volumes in over a decade. Meanwhile new Nigerian official selling prices showed markdowns from relatively high levels the month before which buyers were loath to meet.
* Angolan crude oil exports are set to plunge to 38 cargoes due to a shutdown for maintenance at the Saturno field during June and issues affecting the Girassol stream.
* State oil company Sonangol, which holds 15 of the June cargoes, was said to have almost sold out its spot cargoes, in an extremely quick turnaround relative to previous months.
* Demand for the scarcer supply sent differentials far higher, as U.S. sanctions on comparable Iranian and Venezuelan crudes added to the relative scarcity of Angolan to widen a gap in the market for heavy sweet crude.
* Sonangol’s three cargoes of Dalia were heard to have sold out at record highs around a $2 premium compared with dated Brent and June’s sole cargo of Gimboa for around the same.
* The state oil company’s only remaining cargo was of Saturno, which is being indicated at $1.80.
* Nigeria released its official selling prices for May, showing a decrease for major grades Bonny Light BFO-BON and Qua Iboe BFO-QUA, Forcados BFO-FOC and Escravos by around 20 to 25 cents compared with April.
* Buyers had been largely reluctant to pick up cargoes of May loading cargoes offered at and above a premium of $2 compared to dated Brent.
* One trader said backwardation and low refining margins had reduced the appeal of Nigerian crude for European buyers.
* Total has issued a sell tender for at least two cargoes of Angolan crude, instead of making offers to buy due to the unusually high prices.
* Turkey’s Tupras has issued a tender for three cargoes of Nigerian for loading between May 25 and June 10 but had bought at least one, a cargo of Nigerian Jones Creek.
* Uruguay’s ANCAP has issued a buy tender for July 1-6 arrival.
* China appears to have kept the flow of crude into strategic and commercial storage facilities at high levels in the first quarter, even as the price of oil climbed.
* Spain’s Repsol has suspended its swaps of refined products for crude with Venezuela’s state-run oil company PDVSA , people familiar with the matter said, as U.S. officials weigh penalties for foreign firms doing business with Venezuela.
* Economic disruption from uneven currency trading in Nigeria and continued electricity shortages in South Africa are set to hold back overall growth across sub-Saharan Africa this year, a Reuters poll of economists found on Thursday. (Reporting by Noah Browning Editing by David Holmes) ))