By Tsvetana Paraskova | –
LondonTwo Suezmax tankers fully laden with crude oil set sail from Nigeria’s Forcados terminal over the past few days, according to Platts shipping data, in what appears to be a tentative resumption of shipments of one of the country’s top export grades that has been offline since October last year.
According to Platts trade flow software cFlow, the Suezmax Densa Orca left Forcados on Sunday, and the Suezmax Astro Perseus departed from Forcados on Tuesday. It was not immediately clear where the destination ports of the two tankers are. More loadings are planned at Forcados, and five tentative dates have been set for June, according to Platts’ trading sources.
According to a Platts source close to the situation, the grade is loading, but it’s a little early to say that things are back to normal.
The Forcados grade, whose output usually averages 200,000-250,000 bpd, has been offline for most of the time since February 2016, due to a series of militant bombing on the Trans Forcados pipeline that connects oil fields in the Niger Delta with the export terminal. In October last year, loadings resumed, but new attacks forced the grade offline again less than a month later.
In May this year, trading sources told Platts that at least two 950,000-barrel cargoes of Forcados crude would ship from the main terminal in May.
Days before that, Shell was said to be testing the Trans Forcados export pipeline for a potential restart, and the Astro Perseus tanker was expected to load the first cargo.
Referring to today’s tanker flow data, a spokeswoman for Shell declined to comment on shipments departing from Forcados, but told Platts that the force majeure on loadings at the terminal remains in place.
As Nigeria is exempt from the OPEC deal, a full resumption of Forcados exports would further complicate the cartel’s efforts to cut back production in its mission to lift the price of oil and draw down global oversupply to the five-year industry average.