…Angola overtakes Nigeria as Africa’s biggest crude producer, The Forcados connection
There are palpable fear in the oil and gas industry as latest statistics from the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) have shown that Nigeria’s crude oil production fell by 67,000 barrels per day (bpd) in March while on the other hand Angola saw its oil output rise to 1.782 million bpd last month from 1.767 million bpd in February a situation which has led to the southern African country overtaking Nigeria as Africa’s number one oil producer.
This is even as the country is reported to be losing about 300,000 barrels of crude oil per day due to the bombing of Forcados pipeline that conveys crude oil to the over 400,000 barrels per day Forcados Export Terminal, one of the country’s biggest export terminals in the Western Niger Delta by the Niger Delta Avengers; a militant group.
OPEC, in its Monthly Oil Market Report released in April, put crude oil production from Nigeria at 1.677 million bpd in March based on direct communication, down from 1.744 million bpd in February.
The country recorded the biggest drop in output in the month among its peers in OPEC, followed by Venezuela, based on direct communication.
Exports and production of Nigeria’s popular crude grade Forcados continued to be shut due to a sabotage-related spill on the subsea Forcados pipeline.
The country has recently seen a rise in militant attacks in its main oil-producing region, the Niger Delta, denting oil production.
The country’s production figure for March was put at 1.722 million bpd by secondary sources, compared to 1.762 million bpd the previous month.
According to secondary sources, total OPEC crude oil production in March averaged 32.25 million bpd, a marginal increase of 15,000bpd over the previous month.
The 13-member oil cartel said in the report that, “crude oil output increased mostly from Iran, Iraq and Angola, while production decreased in UAE, Libya and Nigeria.”
Angola saw its oil output rise to 1.782 million bpd last month from 1.767 million bpd in February, based on direct communication, according to the OPEC report.
The southern African country had in November 2015 overtaken Nigeria in output level as it produced 1.722 million bpd, compared to 1.607 million bpd produced by Nigeria, OPEC’s December report showed.
In its latest monthly report, OPEC believes crude supply outside the producer group is set to fall more than expected, with weaker Chinese, Colombian, UK and US oil output eclipsing better outlooks for Canada, Norway, Oman and Russia.
The outlook for non- OPEC supply has been hit largely by lower expectations for crude oil production from China’s onshore mature fields.
OPEC also cited the postponement of major new projects due to reduced cash flow as the impact of lower prices takes its toll.
It now sees output falling by 730,000bpd over the year, up from a previous estimate of 700,000bpd, to average 56.39 million bpd in 2016.
This development it was revealed has translated to Nigeria losing about 300,000 barrels of crude oil per day.
The loss, which translates to an average of $12 million daily at an oil price of $40 per barrel, arose from the damage caused on the 48-inch underwater pipeline, which disrupted crude oil flows to the export terminal.
A militant group, Niger-Delta Avengers has claimed responsibility for the bombing of the pipelines despite threats by President Muhammadu Buhari to deal with those responsible for the blowing up of the pipeline.
“We are not deterred by such threats as we are highly spirited and shall continue blowing up pipelines until the Niger Delta people are no longer marginalized by the Nigerian actors”, said the militant group.
The oil-rich Niger-Delta, which contributes not less than 70 per cent of state income in Africa’s biggest economy, has been left devastated by years of neglect and environmental degradation due to activities of oil exploration and lack of political will to bring development to the area.
This has resulted in militants demanding a greater share of crude revenues to the area as well as agitations for resource control.
Unheard of before the Forcados attack, the Niger Delta Avengers say they want to ensure that local people enjoy a quality of life which reflects the region’s contribution to the national purse.
“We take no pleasure in claiming innocent lives hence our struggle is geared toward attacking the oil installations in our region and not the people. And we shall stop at nothing until our goal is achieved”, the group added in its statement.
Recall that The Chief Executive Officer of Seplat, Mr. Austin Avuru, had in an interview revealed that the persistent shutdown of the pipeline was a major problem for oil producers operating in the western Niger Delta.
“Once Trans Forcados is down, all of us suffer….So, the Trans Forcados remains a huge problem for all of us, producers in the western Niger Delta, who deliver crude oil to Forcados. When it is down, everybody suffers; we have production outage and therefore, for the period, there is no production for the country,” he said.