W. Africa Crude-Freight rise set to bite in February but diffs still high

 LONDON, Dec 12 (Reuters) - Enough January cargoes have
already traded for the impact of rising shipping rates this week
to mostly affect February oil exports, traders said, days before
export programmes are due to emerge. * Tanker shipping rates for most main routes from West
Africa largely steadied but remained near year-long highs. * Traders cited logisticial issues related to the global
switchover to lower sulphur fuels as the main cause but said
prices for January-loading cargoes were essentially unaffected. * Over ten Angolan cargoes have yet to be sold from the
January programme and up to 30 from Nigeria, meaning trading is
roughly in line or a little slower than for December. * With export schedules from the continent's top two
exporters expected to emerge next week, some sellers believe the
impact of the freight increases will be felt most then. * Sluggish middle distillate refining margins have slowed
interest for heavy sweet Angolan in traditional markets though
European refiners may have slightly picked up buying. * Still, with light sweet Qua Iboe selling recently for
above a premium of $3.90 compared to dated Brent and heavy sweet
Dalia selling for around $3.00, a range of West African grades
have hit 2019 highs. * Sweet grades have received a sharp boost for much of the
last month and a half relatedly to compatibility for refining
into low sulphur fuel for ships. * A tender from Uruguay's ANCAP for March-delivery crude was
set to close on Thursday. RELATED NEWS * Angola's parliament approved a 2020 budget on Thursday
which estimates the average oil price at $55 a barrel. * Norway's oil output in November hit its highest level
since March 2017 at 1.71 million barrels per day, the Norwegian
Petroleum Directorate (NPD) said on Thursday. * Global oil inventories could rise sharply despite OPEC and
its allies deepening their output cuts and slowing U.S.
production growth, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said. (Reporting By Noah Browning; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle) ))
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