Angola's crude oil exports in September are set to fall by 300,000 barrels per day (bpd) to the lowest since June 2011, a preliminary loading schedule showed, which could support prices in the West African market. Exports are set to average 1.57 million bpd in September. The schedule lists 49 cargoes and does not yet include any Mondo and Gimboa crude shipments, which could be added later and lift the overall total. The drop could bolster differentials for Angolan crude in the West African market, which has come under pressure from ample supplies, but that also will depend on the strength of demand in September from big purchasers such as China.
"It will be supportive as long as the Chinese are there," said a trader of West African crude. "They have been buying a little less than usual." Other traders said the drop in output partly reflected field maintenance and seasonal factors as September tends to be a "low month" for Angola's exports. Crude streams including Cabinda, Nemba, Hungo, Plutonio and Pazflor are scheduled to export fewer cargoes in September. Angola was set to export an average of 1.87 million bpd in August, according to Reuters calculations based on loading programmes provided by trading sources, which is the highest scheduled in 2 1/2 years.
The country is Africa's second-largest oil producer, behind fellow OPEC member Nigeria. Its exports briefly rivalled Nigeria's in early 2010 but have since fallen back due to natural decline at some fields and maintenance work. The signs of lower Angolan exports come a day after a report that the country's proven crude oil reserves are falling faster than those of any other member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. Angola's proven crude oil reserves declined by almost 20 percent to 10.47 billion barrels in 2011, according to a report published by OPEC.