UK oil terminal closure delays Brent cargoes in May, June - sources

LONDON (Reuters) - North Sea Brent crude cargoes for loading in May and June have been delayed due to the shutdown at the UK’s Sullom Voe oil terminal, trade sources said on Friday, slowing supply of the crude which helps underpin a global pricing benchmark.

The Brent stream was originally scheduled to load almost 100,000 barrels per day of crude in May and is usually the smallest of five crude grades that underpin the Brent benchmark, which is used to set prices worldwide.

Enquest, Sullom Voe’s operator, said on Thursday it spotted a “minor defect” during a routine inspection and shut the Brent and Ninian crude pipelines which bring crude to the terminal from North Sea fields.

All of the four 600,000-barrel Brent cargoes originally planned to load in June have had their loading dates delayed by at least four to five days, a trade source said.

In addition, oil trading sources said on Thursday one of the five Brent cargoes due to load in May had been dropped from the loading schedule and another was delayed into June.

Sullom Voe is also the outlet for a smaller North Sea crude stream, Clair, and planned maintenance has already reduced production of this grade, another trade source said, although one cargo may load this month.

The terminal is still expected to reopen on Sunday, a source familiar with the matter said. An Enquest spokesperson did not have a further update on Friday.

The incident follows unplanned outages of another crude grade underpinning the Brent benchmark, Forties, earlier this year and in 2017. The outage of Forties, about four times the size of Brent, helped boost world prices.

TAQA, the Brent pipeline operator, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.

Editing by Adrian Croft