LONDON, May 17 (Reuters) - Outages in the North Sea, issues with Russian pipelines and reduced exports from some Mediterranean exporting countries have combined to make West African grades more attractive to European customers, traders said on Friday.
Climbing gasoline refining margins were also giving a boost to the lighter crude grades.
* North Sea Forties crude differentials rose on Thursday to the highest level since early 2016, as an outage to the relatively small Flotta stream has added to supply curbs affecting Ekofisk and Statfjord.
* These reduced exports, along with supply issues related to Russian pipeline contamination issues and a slight drop in Mediterranean output, has raised European appetite for West African crude.
* Three Suezmaxes were recently scheduled to bring West African crude, likely Nigerian, to the UK for late May and early June loading.
* Saudi Arabia will provide India’s IOC with an extra 2 million barrels of crude a month from July to December to compensate for tightened U.S. sanctions, as traders have noted no sharp uptick in buying of Nigerian to compensate the loss.
* Nigeria’s NNPC significantly raised the June official selling price (OSP) for Bonny Light, up to 156 cents from 139 cents per barrel last month, and Qua Iboe to 171 cents from 143 cents per barrel.
* The prices still fall far short of offerings which have neared all-time highs, with one seller offering Qua Iboe at a premium of $2.70 to date Brent.
* Term allocations for Angola’s July loading programme are set to emerge early next week.
* Asian demand may be weighed down by a widening of the Brent-Dubai spread DUB-EFS-1M as well as steep backwardation.
* Brent futures are experiencing their biggest backwardation since June 2014, as market participants expect draws on crude stocks amid tight global supply.
* Those factors were seen to be significantly deflating Chinese demand for Angolan crude, though traders expected that market to largely meet expected high price offerings.
* China offered strong support to Iran on Friday, with its top diplomat telling Iran’s foreign minister that China opposes unilateral sanctions and supports Tehran’s efforts to safeguard its interests.
* China has issued a second batch of refined fuel export quotas for 2019 that is 30 percent higher than the first batch, two trading sources briefed on the matter said on Friday. (Reporting by Noah Browning; Editing by Mark Potter) ))