- U.S. east coast refiners were also buying Nigerian crude.
Nigerian cargoes loading in February dwindled to about a handful from almost 20 last week, but some were simply deferred to March loading, traders said.
Also Tenders from India were a key outlet, with HPCL taking two million barrels last week and tenders from BPCL and IOC promising to absorb more.
Meanwhile U.S. east coast refiners were also buying Nigerian crude.
* March export plans showed an increase in Bonny Light, Agbami, Amenam and Escravos loadings. Qua Iboe was above the revised February plan because two February cargoes were pushed into March.
* There were no March cargoes of EA or Okwori, traders said.
* Only two Bonga cargoes were scheduled because the field had planned maintenance. Export plans for grades including Erha, Forcados, Oyo and Pennington were still pending.
The renewed interest in Algerian crude comes as the country ramped up exports and fellow African OPEC producers Libya and Nigeria have seized on their exemption from global production cuts and turned on their oil spigots, flooding a well-supplied market in need of new customers.
“It’s real competitive, and I don’t think it’s going to stop any time soon,” said a U.S. East Coast oil trader, of the rise in Algerian imports.
The surge also comes as U.S. East Coast refiners have all-but abandoned domestic crude via rail out of North Dakota in favor of waterborne imports following the collapse of the wide discount CL-LCO1=R U.S. crude enjoyed against the global benchmark Brent, during the outset of the shale revolution in 2011 until the back half of 2015.
In the 21 months before October, there were only six months with Algerian imports into the U.S. East Coast; none higher than 41,000 bpd, EIA data shows.
October offers the clearest picture of how oil flows have shifted along the U.S. East Coast – total foreign imports into the region reached 1.07 million bpd, the highest in 59 months, while domestic crude volumes by rail fell to 129,500 bpd, the second-lowest total in 46 months.
Sarah Emerson, managing principal at consultancy ESAI Energy LLC, said she expects African grades to continue to hit the East Coast, particularly as Libya and Nigeria boost production.
“The one thing that helped boost rail into the East Coast was Libya production disappeared. That’s not the case any more, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we start seeing Libyan barrels on the East Coast,” Emerson sai