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APPEC interview: NNPC plans new approach to crude oil sales

Singapore — Nigerian National Petroleum Corp intends to handle up to 80% of the country's crude oil lifting contracts via its trading arm in the next few years as part of efforts to widen its customer reach, a senior official told S&P Global Platts Wednesday.

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Mele Kyari, general manager of state-owned NNPC's crude oil marketing division, also said in an interview on the sidelines of the APPEC conference in Singapore it planned to sell more crude on a CIF or delivered basis to ensure security of supply.

Nigerian oil exportsThe NNPC's trading arm Duke Oil will be given more equity to directly trade and market the country's crude in the next few years, Kyari said.

"There is a plan to see how Duke Oil can directly trade the volumes in the market [up to 80%] and ultimately 100% of our equity in the long term."

The current 2017-18 Nigerian crude oil term contracts involve the export of around 1.306 million b/d of Nigerian crude out of the 2.2 million b/d the country has the capacity to produce.

Duke Oil gets 90,000 b/d and the other 38 companies on the list have a 30,000 b/d allocation.

NNPC allocates the majority of its crude cargoes to trading companies and oil refiners that hold term contracts. These cargoes are then sold by the trading companies to end-users, refiners and other buyers.

India, the largest buyer of Nigerian oil, has always pushed for the NNPC to directly market its crude to ensure its largest buyers have secure supplies, and stop using trading companies and other intermediaries.

Kyari hinted NNPC was moving in the same direction as the state-owned companies of Saudi Aramco and Angola's Sonangol.

Sonangol markets and sells its crude on spot and term markets after Angola elected to instead strengthen its trading arm, giving it the ability to choose clients and end-users.

Analysts have said this system would be more transparent and benefit buyers and sellers.


Kyari also said the NNPC was looking to "engage one-on-one as a CIF supplier to customers". Nigerian crude is mostly sold and priced on an FOB basis.

Although enjoying a recovery of late, Nigeria has faced two difficult years, with oil exports falling almost 40% due to renewed militancy in the oil-rich Niger Delta.

That has left regular customers keener to buy crude on a delivered basis to ensure supply security as attacks on the Forcados and Qua Iboe terminals had put off some players from buying crude on an FOB basis.

Asked whether it was NNPC's new approach to customers, Kyari said: "We are growing it. It existed but we have not been patronizing it. Now we see a great need for that."

Kyari also said that as part of its efforts to attract new buyers, NNPC will make sure grades were "appropriately priced" and it will also focus on ensuring supply stability, which was a key issue.


The NNPC will continue to depend on Asia and Europe as its two main traditional destinations and hopes to increase its share in both regions, Kyari said.

Kyari said while 29% of Nigerian exports went to Asia, most went to India and Indonesia, and not other key demand hubs in China, Japan and South Korea.

"So Europe and Asia will be our prime buyers in the short term, and there is growing consumption in Africa also but it is of a smaller volume," Kyari said.

In the past decade, Europe has emerged as the biggest demand center as falling North Sea production along with declining Libyan crude exports has meant European refineries have had to rely more on West Africa for light sweet crude.

So far this year, 17% of Nigerian crude exports have been to the US, Kyari said, which was a sharp rise from few years ago. Indeed, since the US started exporting crude in 2015, Nigeria's exports to the US have increased.

Importers of Nigerian crude in the US are refineries on the Atlantic Coast. In 2014, only 3.1% of Nigerian exports went to the US, according to NNPC data.

Crude oil flows from Nigeria to the US were once a major trade route in the global oil market, but the shale revolution had a profound impact on the make-up of the US import market, which has, by extension, greatly altered the direction of crude flows both within Europe and to Asia.

Until about 2008, the US used to buy more than 1 million b/d of light sweet Nigerian crude oil, almost 50% of Nigerian exports at the time.


Kyari also said NNPC expected the force majeure on Nigeria's Bonny Light crude to be lifted soon.

"I cannot give you an immediate time frame but I know that it will be very soon", as soon as repair works are completed, Kyari said, adding that the force majeure will likely be lifted in October.

Force majeure was declared September 16 on Bonny Light due to issues affecting one of the two major pipelines leading into the grade's terminal, a spokesman for terminal operator Shell Petroleum Development Co. of Nigeria, or SPDC, has said.

Bonny Light exports have been continuing through the other main pipeline, the SPDC-operated Trans Niger Pipeline, the spokesman said.

Bonny Light has seen its production affected by declarations of force majeure at different points throughout the past year.

It most recently came out of a month-long force majeure on August 14, due to issues over a leak on the Nembe Creek Trunk pipeline.

--Takeo Kumagai,
--Eklavya Gupte,