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Asia to Cut West African Crude Imports to Three-Month Low

Asian oil refiners plan to reduce imports of West African crude for loading in December to a three-month low of 47 cargoes after Reliance Industries Ltd. failed to buy any, a survey of five traders showed.

Shipments totaling 44.7 million barrels, or 1.44 million barrels a day, will be exported from Angola, Nigeria, the Republic of Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo, the poll and an analysis of loading programs obtained by Bloomberg News showed. This is the lowest since September, compared with 46.7 million barrels, or 1.55 million barrels a day this month.

Refiners in Asia can buy Middle Eastern crude or West African grades and their choice normally depends on the value of the lower-sulfur blends from Angola and Nigeria versus heavier grades from Saudi Arabia and Iran. The lighter crude yields more lucrative products such as diesel and gasoline when processed.

Indian companies bought 12 shipments for December, five fewer than November, according to the survey.

Reliance Industries, owner of the world’s biggest refining complex, didn’t buy any cargoes after purchasing five shipments for November loading, the survey showed.

Indian Oil Corp., the nation’s largest refiner, maintained its purchases at eight cargoes, while Mangalore Refinery & Petrochemicals Ltd. bought one lot of Coco crude from the Democratic Republic of Congo for the second time, according to the survey.

Unipec, Cnooc

Chinese refiners will import 28 cargoes, three more than November, the survey showed. China International United Petroleum & Chemical Corp., known as Unipec, cut its purchases to 18 consignments from 20 this month.

China National Offshore Oil Corp., the nation’s third-largest oil company known as Cnooc Group, bought four cargoes of Angolan crude, including two shipments of Pazflor, according to the poll.

Nigerian benchmark Qua Iboe was at a premium of $1.83 a barrel to North Sea Dated Brent, compared with an average of $3.36 in October, according to data compiled by Bloomberg News.

North Sea Dated Brent, used to price West African grades, was at 59 cents a barrel more than Dubai, a Middle Eastern benchmark for high-sulfur crude today, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. This compares with an average of $3.54 a barrel for October.

“Given favourable arbitrage economics, we would not be surprised if Asian buyers would finally take much more Atlantic Basin crude in the coming weeks,” analysts at Vienna-based researcher JBC Energy GmbH said today in a note.

Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil producer, plans to export 2.18 million barrels a day of crude next month while Angola will ship 1.72 million barrels, Bloomberg calculations based on loading programs showed.

The following tables show details of planned Asian imports. Each cargo ranges from 600,000 barrels to 1 million barrels.

Countries   Number of Cargoes   Total Volume (B/D)
            Dec.      Nov.      Dec.        Nov.
China       28        25        861,290     797,667
India       12        17        361,290     530,677
Taiwan       4         6        125,323     194,500
Indonesia    3         1         95,161      31,667

Month            Cargoes         Volume (B/D)
August             50            1,536,613
September          42            1,344,333
October            49            1,507,742
November           49            1,554,500
December           47            1,443,065

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