India loses spot as Nigeria’s biggest oil buyer

India loses spot as Nigeria’s biggest oil buyerFor the first time in at least two years, India’s monthly import of Nigerian crude oil has fallen below six million barrels, the latest monthly report from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation has shown.

The Asian country lost its spot as Nigeria’s top oil buyer in December, as its import tumbled to a record low of 5.82 million barrels from 14.42 million barrels in November. It bought 17.2 million barrels in January 2016.

India, which in 2013 replaced the United States as Nigeria’s biggest market, saw its import of Nigerian crude rise to a peak of 20.37 million barrels in April 2015.

Netherlands emerged the biggest importer of Nigerian crude in December 2016 as it bought 10.11 million barrels, up from 4.77 million barrels the previous month.

The United States was the third-largest buyer of Nigerian crude as its import fell to 5.63 million barrels from 11.22 million barrels in November.

India’s oil import from Iran has risen sharply in recent months after Western sanctions on the latter were lifted a year ago.

Reuters reported last week that India’s Iran oil import jumped to a record high in 2016/17, topping half-a-million barrels per day as refiners boosted purchases after lifting of some Western sanctions imposed on Tehran last year.

Indian refiners shipped in about 541,000 bpd of Iranian oil in the fiscal year to March, a growth of about 115 per cent over the previous year, ship tracking data obtained from sources and data compiled by Thomson Reuters Oil Research & Forecasts showed.

Iran was India’s second biggest oil supplier – a position now belonging to Iraq – before economic sanctions aimed at Iran’s nuclear programme hampered its trade relations, forcing the South Asian nation to tap alternative suppliers.

In the first quarter of this year, India’s oil import from Iran surged by about 92 per cent to 573,400 bpd as some members of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries had cut supplies, the data showed.

The NNPC said crude oil production in the country in December slowed down to 1.58mbpd, representing 18.23 per cent drop relative to November 2016 production and lagged behind December, 2015’s performance by 24.04 per cent.

It said the Federal Government’s engagement with the Niger Delta militants had continued to enhance production.

The corporation said, “Issues that overshadowed production during the period include shutdown of Trans Niger Pipeline and Nembe Creek Trunk Line due to pipeline leakages; shut down of Agbami Terminal for mini turnaround maintenance and the subsisting force majeure at Forcados and Brass Terminals.

“Areas much affected by the militant activities are the onshore and shallow water assets, where government’s share is high. Hence, sustained security of onshore and shallow water locations remains a priority to restore production to peak levels.”

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