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South Sudan's Apr Dar Blend crude oil exports to rise 4% on month to 4.8 mil barrels

South Sudan is expected to export an estimated 4.8 million barrels, or 160,000 b/d, of Dar Blend crude oil in April, up 4.34% from 4.6 million barrels in March, a trader with knowledge of the preliminary program said late Monday.

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A total of nine stems, which consists of six 600,000-barrel lots and three 400,000-barrel cargoes, are scheduled for lifting in April, the source said.

The cargoes are expected to be marketed as three cargoes of 1 million barrels and three 600,000-barrel cargoes.

In comparison, one 1-million-barrel cargo and six 600,000-barrel cargoes were offered in March.

Dar Blend is a heavy, acidic crude produced from blocks 3 and 7 in South Sudan's Upper Nile State.

South Sudan's Ministry of Petroleum and Mining was heard to have offered a total 2 million barrels of Dar Blend crude, consisting of two 1-million-barrel cargoes for loading over April 6-8 and April 22-24, in a tender that closed last week.

The outcome of that tender is not known yet.

For March, the ministry had offered 1.8 million barrels of Dar Blend crude, in three stems of 600,000 barrels for lifting over March 7-8, March 15-16 and March 24-25.

The cargoes were heard sold to Unipec at discounts of around $8-$9.80/barrel to Dated Brent, on an FOB basis, traders said.

Apart from the ministry, other stakeholders are expected to jointly offer a total 2.8 million barrels of Dar Blend crude.

State-owned China National Petroleum Corporation was heard to have offered a 600,000-barrel cargo it jointly holds with the ministry for loading over April 2-3.

The cargo was heard placed to a Chinese end-user at a discount of around $8.85/b to Dated Brent.

CNPC, which holds 41% equity in Dar Blend oil field operator Dar Petroleum Operating Company, is also expected to market three other cargoes on behalf of other stakeholders, including Malaysia's Petronas which holds a 40% stake in DPOC.

Two 600,000-barrel stems are scheduled for loading over April 12-13, April 17-18 and a 1 million-barrel stem is expected to load over April 29-May 1.

Other stakeholders of the operating company include South Sudan's Nilepet (8%), China Petroleum and Chemical Corp. (6%) and Egypt Kuwait Holding (3.6%), according to the US Energy Information Administration's website.

South Sudan's Dar Blend crude production remained largely unaffected by fighting that has otherwise impacted output of the country's other crude export, Nile Blend.

Nile Blend crude from South Sudan's Unity state, which was earlier produced at a rate of 40,000-50,000 b/d, remains shut-in since rebels halted output after a failed coup attempt against President Salva Kiir on December 15, 2013.

Exports of the medium, low sulfur, waxy crude have since been sourced from oil fields in neighboring Sudan's Kordofan state, which have an estimated output of 60,000 b/d.

The latest loading program showed that Sudan's Nile Blend crude exports are expected to total 1.2 million barrels in March, said traders with knowledge of the matter.

The preliminary program showed a 600,000-barrel parcel held by CNPC for loading over March 25-27, a 182,000-barrel stem jointly held by Yemen's Ansan Wikfs and Star Oil -- a joint operating company with Sudan's Sudapet, which is expected to load over March 22-24.

The third cargo, scheduled for loading over March 29-31, is a 418,000- barrel stem jointly held by Malaysia's state-owned Petronas and India's ONGC Videsh Ltd.

Meanwhile, South Sudan has commenced talks with Sudan to reduce the oil pipeline fees which the land-locked country pays to transport its oil through Sudan's territory.

As part of an agreement in 2012, South Sudan currently pays a fixed amount of $25/b to transport its oil through Sudanese territory to the Marsha Bashayer Terminal, located along the Red Sea, for export.

--Ada Taib,
--Edited by Geetha Narayanasamy,