Loadings of Nigeria's Forcados resume
London, 18 May (Argus) — Loading operations resumed at Nigeria's offshore Forcados terminal for the first time in six months after repairs to pipeline infrastructure, potentially raising the Opec country's crude output by more than 200,000 b/d.
The Suezmax Astro Perseus, which has been moored near the loading terminal for the past week, appeared fully laden after loading resumed at 13:00 BST (12:00 GMT) yesterday, according traders and tanker tracking. Its destination remains unclear.
The market has been expecting production of the distillate-rich, medium sweet crude to resume this month. Shell sold a cargo to Tupras for June delivery last week, the first sale of Nigerian crude to Turkey in more than two years, while Vitol offered a cargo delivered to Europe for 20 June-20 July arrival.
Shell-operated Forcados had been loading up to 220,000 b/d when Niger delta militants attacked the main export pipeline in February 2016 and shut in production — the opening salvo in a campaign of sabotage last year that briefly dragged Nigeria's crude output to 1.3mn b/d, its lowest level since 1988. Loadings resumed last October, but were shut in again shortly afterwards by an attack on the Trans-Forcados pipeline.
Nigeria is exempt from Opec production cuts and has gradually been raising output this year, with few attacks reported, after the Abuja government moved to pacify the restive delta region, launching a dialogue with rebel groups, seeking to address their grievances and renewing amnesty payments to former militants. Production reached 1.66mn b/d last month, up from 1.645mn b/d in March.
Shell could not immediately be contacted to confirm the restart of Forcados loadings. But force majeure, imposed on exports of the Nigerian crude in February 2016, remains in place.