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U.S. Imports of Nigerian Crude Declined to 15-Year Low in March

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May 31 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. imports of Nigerian crude slumped to the lowest level in more than 15 years in March, according to Energy Department data.

Africa’s largest oil producer shipped 337,000 barrels a day of crude to the U.S., the least since December 1996, according to the data released yesterday. That compares with an average of 768,000 barrels a day for 2011.

Imports of Nigerian crude to the East Coast, an area known as PADD1, dropped to 1.745 million barrels, down 44 percent from February, the data showed. Shipments to the Gulf Coast, known as PADD3, rose 31 percent to 8.693 million barrels, the data show. That’s 46 percent less than a year earlier.

Rising production from the Eagle Ford shale formation in Texas may further damp demand for Nigeria’s crude, according to Zug, Switzerland-based research group Petromatrix GmbH.

“Those volumes will become increasingly at risk in the second half of the year as more Eagle Ford makes it way to the U.S. Gulf,” Petromatrix Managing Director Olivier Jakob said in an e-mailed report today.

Output from Eagle Ford will reach 500,000 barrels a day this year and may rise to 1 million barrels in the next few years, Valero Energy Corp. Chief Executive Officer Bill Klesse said in an interview May 3. That compares with an average production of 60,000 barrels a day in 2011, according to data from the Texas Railroad Commission, which regulates the energy industry in the state.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sherry Su in London at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Voss at

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