W. Africa Crude-Angolan cargoes move after price cuts – Reuters

LONDON Jan 4 (Reuters) – Differentials came under pressure on Wednesday due to excess oil and high freight rates, though Asian demand for heavy crudes showed more signs of life.

* Benchmark Brent crude, on which West African grades are priced, was edging higher on expectations of falling stocks in the United States. But the spread between Brent and Dubai crudes remained narrow at $1.90 per barrel DUB-EFS-1M, helping to keep arbitrage east attractive.

* This was largely aiding Angolan crudes and other heavy and medium grades; demand for lighter Nigerian crudes was faltering.

* Angolan lawyers, who argue that President Jose Eduardo dos Santos’ billionaire daughter was illegally appointed as the chief executive of the state oil company, have applied for their case to be heard in the Constitutional Court.

* Late on Tuesday, state oil company NNPC awarded its 2017 term contracts to 39 companies, leaving out the trading arms of oil majors ExxonMobil, Shell and ENI.

NIGERIA

* Nigeria’s crude oil exports are on track to edge higher in February, due in part to deferred January cargoes, loading programmes compiled by Reuters showed on Wednesday.

* Bonga exports of just three cargoes in February was the result of field maintenance, traders said. Field operator Shell did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

* The instability of loading programmes dented demand for the crude, with little spot interest. Offers for Qua Iboe had fallen to close to $1 per barrel above dated Brent, traders said.

* Between the January and February programmes, at least 25 cargoes were left to trade, and some warned that tender buyers in India could opt for more reliable crude.

ANGOLA

* State oil company Sonangol sold two cargoes, a Cabinda and a Saturno, after lowering offer levels, though neither the buyers nor the agreed prices were immediately clear.

* Sonangol was offering Cabinda at flat to dated Brent, after seeking a 20 cent premium initially, and Saturno was also lower than the initial offer of minus $1.50.

* The company also lowered its offers for a Palanca cargo to dated plus 90 cents, from a $1.10 premium, Girassol to plus 10 cents, from plus 30 cents, and lowered the discount for Nemba to minus 60 cents, from minus 40 cents.

* A trader said Exxon was also lowering its offer levels, but further details were not available.

* China’s Unipec had purchased Dalia from Total, Hungo from BP and Pazflor from Exxon over the past week.

TENDERS

* Indian refineries IOC and BPCL were running tenders to buy crude oil, with results expected later this week. (Reporting by Libby George; Editing by Susan Thomas)