London — Crude loadings of Nigeria's key crude Qua Iboe have been temporarily halted due to a fire at the terminal, traders and Nigeria-based sources said Dec. 14.
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Qua Iboe is Nigeria's largest export grade and popular among global refiners, with India, the US, Canada, Italy, Spain, Indonesia, and the Netherlands being key buyers.
"There was a [fire] explosion yesterday and liftings have been suspended. I suspect it should be back by end of week," said a West African crude trader.
A representative at ExxonMobil, which operates the Qua export terminal, confirmed the incident but said the company does not "anticipate any impact to operations."
"On Dec. 13, Mobil Producing Nigeria experienced a fire at the process area of the Qua Iboe Terminal," the spokesman added. "The cause of the incident is being investigated. Two individuals were injured, they are receiving medical treatment and we hope for their quick recovery."
Differentials under pressure
Production of this key grade has ranged between 180,000 – 220,000 b/d this year, according to S&P Global Platts estimates.
Differentials for Qua Iboe, however, have weakened slightly after Asian buying activity slowed down in the past week, traders said.
"Indeed things [differentials] seem to be easing ... whether the qua accident catches anybody out unclear," said a West African crude trader.
Qua Iboe was assessed at a premium of $0.10/b to Dated Brent on Dec. 11, a fall of 40 cents in the past two weeks, data from S&P Global Platts showed. Similar values were seen on Dec. 14, traders said.
Qua Iboe is a light sweet crude, which has a gravity of 36 API and sulfur content of 0.13%. The crude, produced from fields 20-40 miles off the coast of southeast Nigeria, is brought to shore at the Qua Iboe terminal via a seabed pipeline system.
ExxonMobil holds a 40% interest in the field's production, with state-owned NNPC holding the rest.