W. Africa Crude-Contango market, China virus upends trading

 LONDON, Feb 5 (Reuters) - Rapidly slowing economic activity
in China halted Chinese crude buying as Brent crude futures
flipped into contango for the first time since July. ANGOLA * Amid sharp refinery runs cuts, Chinese buying was largely
paused but major customers appear not to have issued any force
majeure declarations on existing crude purchases. * Teapot refineries in China's Shandong province, accounting
for a fifth of crude imports, have halted spot trading. * Only three VLCC tankers were reported in the last 12 days
to be on schedule to export West African crude to China,
chartered by Chevron, Unipec and PetroIneos -- an unusually low
number. * A collapse in jet fuel margins due to restricted air
travel to and within China has cut demand for heavier crude oil. * Angolan state oil company Sonangol has been offering a
cargo of Dalia crude at dated Brent plus $2.00, far above a sale
price for the variety of just $1.10 last week. * India's IOC issued a spot tender with results expected for
crude loading April 1-10, yet results did not emerge. * The flip of market structure in contango will encourage
traders to keep crude in storage for more profitable resale in
the future, and is a boon for sales of West African oil on long
voyages. NIGERIA * Saudi Arabia lowered its official selling prices for its
Arab Light and North Sea forties differentials slipped for the
fourth day in a row, putting downward pressure on Nigerian oil. * European buyers were largely waiting for price drops as
gasoline cracks eased, though new data on Wednesday indicated
U.S. gasoline stocks fell despite predictions of a significant
build. * Tullow Oil plans to cut a third of its staff to save about
$20 million, a source with direct knowledge of the matter said,
after the firm was hit by weak output in Ghana, delays in East
Africa and lower-than-hoped-for oil quality in Guyana. * A Milan court has rejected a prosecution request to hear
testimony from a former legal adviser of Eni who has accused the
company of spying on judges, offering a boost to the Italian oil
firm as it fights bribery allegations over a Nigerian oil field. * Trading companies Mercuria, Trafigura and United Arab
Emirates-based GP Global have applied for licences to supply
marine fuel to ships in Singapore, the world's top bunkering
hub, three sources with knowledge of the matter said. (Reporting by Noah Browning; Editing by Edmund Blair) ))

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