LONDON, April 8 (Reuters) – Angolan cargoes for May loading were close to being sold out on the back of strong Asian demand for medium-heavy grades, while Nigerian crude being offered at high prices continues to encounter scepticism from buyers.
* April loading cargoes were clearing as buyers have picked up bargains compared to offers for the same grades for May which are hovering near five-year highs.
* Over 30 cargoes remained for April and May.
* One seller noted a decline in free-on-board sales for crude shipments in 2019, in another sign of flagging demand, while trading margins remained under pressure.
* As new Asian tenders for May-loading are expected to taper off, oil majors holding Nigerian oil are set to absorb some excess cargoes into their own European refining systems.
* Around ten cargoes remained from the May programme with about six cargoes held by Equinor.
* The June loading programme is expected early next week.
* Angolan heavy-medium crude yielding larger quantities of higher-value middle distillates has received a boost from the absence of similar grades of Venezuelan and Iranian oil which have been curtailed by U.S. sanctions.
* Freight costs have favoured the West Africa-Asia journey, but the Brent-Dubai price spread DUB-EFS-1M has been inching up from a years-long low of around 20 cents in mid-February to $1.60 on Monday.
* India’s IOC issued a buy tender for June 1-10 loading crude closing on Wednesday.
* U.S. shale oil has largely swept away comparable grades of Nigerian oil from the U.S. and is putting them under pressure in Europe, But steady Indian and Indonesian demand has helped lift price indications for two of Nigeria’s top grades to near five-year highs.
* The World Bank has cut its growth forecast for Sub-Saharan Africa this year to 2.8 percent from an initial 3.3 percent
* The Saudi energy minister on Monday said it was premature to say whether a consensus existed among OPEC and its allies to extend oil supply cuts but a meeting next month would be key. (Reporting by Noah Browning; Editing by Mark Potter) ))