Seventh cargo of UK Forties oil delayed in October
LONDON (Reuters) - A seventh cargo of North Sea Forties crude loading in October has been delayed due to lower-than-expected output, trading sources said on Monday, adding to delays in shipments of the oil that sets the Brent benchmark.
Forties is the most important of the four North Sea crude grades which underpin Brent futures. Traders said the delays were feeding into a rise in the price of Brent for immediate delivery compared to supplies further in the future.
"It's supporting the spreads," said one, who also noted that bids for Forties cargoes rose on Monday.
Two trading sources said Forties cargo F1015 had been deferred from October 27-29 to November 4-6, making it the seventh October cargo known to be delayed and the third pushed into November according to a Reuters tally.
A trader at Royal Dutch Shell, which originally owned the shipment, declined to comment.
The Forties stream is fed by Britain's biggest oilfield, Buzzard, which has been shut for maintenance since September 4 and is due to return to full production in the middle of October, according to its operator, Canadian oil company Nexen.
Trade sources say buyers of Forties initially expected Buzzard to be back on stream by around October 10, but the oilfield now looks as if it may not be fully up and running until around October 15, or possibly later.
Other oilfields have also been undergoing maintenance and this has reduced supply to the BP Plc-operated Forties pipeline, which gathers oil from more than 60 offshore fields.
The six other delayed cargoes in October are the first (F1001), second (F1002), fourth (F1004), 11th (F1011), 12th (F1012) and 16th (F1016), which have had their dates put back by between two and 11 days.
In any month, there are always a few changes to loadings of Forties given the difficulty in forecasting production rates from the many fields that supply oil to the Forties pipeline.
Export delays to Forties in September and October are the most significant since May's loading programme, when 11 Forties cargoes out of 19 originally planned were deferred, according to Reuters records.
(Reporting by Alex Lawler; editing by William Hardy)
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