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Nigeria Losing Asian Crude Oil Buyers To Russia

Trade sanctions by members of the European Union on Russia after its invasion of neighbouring Ukraine has forced the key oil producer to slash prices to court rogue sales mainly from Asia where Nigerian oil grades now begin to suffer low demand, reports Oracle News.

According to the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited, the lingering conflict between Russia and Ukraine has led to a dip in demand of the Nigerian oil grades from the once-dependable Asian market.

Executive Director in charge of Crude & Condensate at NNPC Trading Limited, Maryamu Idris, told delegates at the Argus European Crude Conference in London, that substantial price shocks impacting commodity and energy prices globally and demand cuts from India form the major impacts Nigeria suffers from the war in Ukraine.

She stated that the conflict between Russia and Ukraine triggered a situation where India which has been a primary destination for Nigerian grades has now displaced high volumes supplies from Nigeria with discounted Russian barrels.

“To illustrate the extent of this shift, Nigeria’s crude exports to India dwindled from approximately 250,000 barrels per day (bpd) in the six months preceding the February 2022 invasion of Ukraine to 194,000 in the subsequent six months afterwards. And so far, this year, only around 120,000 bpd of Nigerian crude volumes have made their way to India,” she said.

On the other hand, she noted that the Nigerian crude flow to Europe has increased in a bid to fill supply gaps left by the ban on Russian crude, pointing out that six months before the war, 678,000 bpd of Nigerian crude grades went to Europe, compared to 710,000 bpd six months later and 730,000 bpd so far this year.

“This trend makes it evident that Nigerian grades are increasingly becoming a significant component in the post-war palette of European refiners. Several Nigerian distillate-rich grades have become a steady preference for many European refiners, given the absence of Russian Urals and diesel. Forcados Blend, Escravos Light, Bonga, and Egina appear to be the most popular, and our latest addition — Nembe Crude – fits well into this basket. This was a strong factor behind our choice of London and the Argus European Crude Conference as the most ideal launch hub for the grade,” Idris also said.

On production challenges, Idris remarked that, like many other oil-producing countries, Nigeria had faced production challenges aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic, including reduced investment in the upstream sector, supply chain disruptions impacting upstream operations, ageing oil fields, and oil theft by unscrupulous elements. These factors, she said, contributed to production declines in the second half of 2022 and early 2023.

Idris, however, noted that the challenges are fast becoming a thing of the past with the introduction and implementation of a new framework for the domestic petroleum industry (the PIA of 2021), rejuvenating the business landscape, and re-positioning NNPC Limited to adopt a more commercial approach to the management of the nation’s hydrocarbon resources.

According to her, NNPC Limited has secured vital partnerships with notable financial institutions to promote upstream investments to restore and sustainably grow production capacity in the coming years.

“NNPC Limited is championing concerted efforts in partnership with host communities and private stakeholders to address the security and environmental challenges in the Niger Delta to further fortify production growth. Suffice to say we have already begun seeing significant progress on the rebound. In September 2023, Nigeria recorded its highest crude oil and condensate output in nearly two years, reaching 1.72 million barrels per day. This, we believe, is just the beginning of our production rebound.”

She affirmed that in addition to sustainably growing upstream production volumes, NNPC Limited is also increasing its participation in the downstream sector in line with a ‘wells-to-wheels’ approach, taking the country’s unique hydrocarbon molecules as close as possible to end-users.

The vehicle for this, she said, is the restructured NNPC Trading Company, focused on growing NNPC’s presence in the global market for crude, condensate, gas, and petroleum products.

The Argus Crude European Crude Conference Panel Session was held with the theme, ‘The Invisible Hand: How Are Shareholders and Asset Managers Meeting the Crude Industry? What Does This Mean for the Future of Crude in Europe?’

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