An estimated 4 million barrels, or 133,333 b/d, of South Sudan's Dar Blend crude oil are expected to be exported in April, down 17% from 4.8 million barrels set to be exported in March, trading sources said Wednesday.
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The expected drop in the outflow of the heavy, sweet crude next month was likely due to the cautious approach taken by Dar Blend producers on exporting amid instability in the region, triggered by civil unrest in the country since early December, one of the sources said.
Production of the South Sudanese grade is currently around 160,000 b/d, according to Liang Jing Dong, a production manager from China National Petroleum Corporation, in early March.
CNPC holds 41% equity interest in Dar Petroleum Operating Company -- operator of the Dar Blend oil fields -- while Malaysia's Petronas has a 40% stake. South Sudan's Ministry of Petroleum and Mining has issued a tender offering a total 2.8 million barrels of April-loading Dar Blend crude, unchanged from the volume it offered for March.
It is offering three 600,000-barrel cargoes of Dar Blend crude, for loading over April 11-12, April 15-16 and April 28-29, and one 1 million-barrel cargo for loading over April 24-25.
The tender closes on March 12, and will remain valid for three business days.
In addition, CNPC had issued a tender for a 600,000-barrel cargo of Dar Blend for loading over April 6-7. The tender closed on Tuesday and the result is expected later Wednesday.
This leaves one more 600,000-barrel cargo of Dar Blend to be offered for April loading, with the laycan over April 15-16.
Other stakeholders of the consortium include South Sudan's Nilepet (8%), China's Sinopec (6%) and Egypt Kuwait Holding (3.6%), according to the US Energy Information Administration's website.
NILE BLEND APRIL EXPORT VOLUME NOT KNOWN YET
South Sudan's Nile Blend crude exports for April are yet to be disclosed.
In March, around 1.2 million barrels were offered for loading, in two 600,000-barrel parcels for the middle and end of the month, Platts reported previously.
Production of Nile Blend crude from South Sudan's Unity state, which is estimated at 40,000-50,000 b/d, remains shut-in as operations ceased in December following the deteriorating security situation in South Sudan.
Production of the medium, sweet grade crude from neighboring Sudan, estimated at 50,000-60,000 b/d, remains unaffected.
India's ONGC Videsh Limited, which has an equity stake in South Sudan's Nile Blend production, said in December that it had evacuated all 11 of its personnel posted in South Sudan on security concerns. It added that other partners in the Nile Blend oil fields have also evacuated their personnel from the country.
Apart from OVL, CNPC and Petronas also hold equity interest in the production of Nile Blend crude in South Sudan.