West Africa's August Crude Exports to Asia to Slip
West African crude oil exports to Asia were expected to fall to 1.84 million barrels per day (bpd) in August, Reuters data and a survey of traders showed.
Slower buying by Indian independent refiners such as Reliance was the primary factor behind the overall decline of 13 percent from July, highlighting the fickle nature of buyers in an oversupplied market.
Indian refiners have used the steep drop in crude prices and ample global availability as an opportunity to expand their crude slates and experiment with new grades, traders said.
"India, and Reliance in particular, took fewer West African (cargoes)," one trader said. "The eastern sweet crudes came off, and shipping rates from West Africa to Asia were higher, so it makes sense."
Reliance booked as few as two cargoes for August loading, compared to at least seven for July loading.
The overall decrease, however, still puts Asia as the top buyers of West African crudes; July, at 2.1 million bpd, was the second-highest export total to Asia this year, and April's 2.43 million bpd marked the highest in at least 10 years.
Those booking cargoes included China's Unipec, the trading arm of Asia's largest refiner Sinopec, and Day Harvest, India's IOC, BPCL and MRPL and Taiwan's CPC.
Despite this, the final destinations of some of the cargoes could easily change. Unipec, a large buyer of West African crude and the single largest charterer to Asia has been selling crude
on the spot market in recent weeks.
The crude oil itself includes Ghana's Jubilee, Equitorial Guinea's Zafiro Blend and Ceiba, multiple cargoes of Angola's Cabinda and Dalia and Nigeria's Agbami, Qua Iboe, Bonny Light, among others.
Reporting By Libby George