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LONDON, June 2 (Reuters) - Nigeria issued its first Forcados oil loading plan since 2016, putting the nation’s June oil exports on track to hit thier highest level in at least 15 months.
The plan, if realised, would return loadings by Nigeria, normally West Africa’s biggest oil exporter, to levels not seen since militant attacks in the oil-rich Niger Delta first shut down Forcados exports in early 2016.
It is also likely to put more downward pressure on oil prices, which are already trading more than 16 percent below the highs reached in January on the back of a persistent global excess.
Last week the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries along with several other oil producing nations agreed to extend output cuts of 1.8 million bpd, but it gave Nigeria, along with Libya, another exemption.
The Forcados loading schedule includes seven cargoes, for a total of 197,000 barrels per day (bpd). That would bring total June exports to 1.75 million bpd aboard 58 cargoes.
According to the Reuters OPEC survey, production in Nigeria last reached 1.76 million bpd in March 2016. Nigeria refines a small amount of its own oil, but this was limited to around 65,000 bpd in 2016.
Forcados has been closed for all but a few weeks following militant attacks on the main Trans Forcados export pipeline in February 2016. Loading plans for October and November 2016 were issued after pipeline repairs, but fresh attacks quickly shut it down again, scuppering those plans.
Three tankers loaded at the terminal since it resumed operations late last month, according to traders, but operator Royal Dutch Shell said on Friday that the grade remains under force majeure. (Reporting by Julia Payne and Libby George; editing by Jason Neely, Greg Mahlich)