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Nigeria’s Agbami to export first oil in Sept - sources

Nigeria’s new deepwater Agbami project is expected to export the first oil in September after a small delay of its production start-up, industry sources said on Wednesday.

StatoilHydro has issued a tender to sell a 975,000 barrel cargo for September 12-13 loading, they said. Bids should be submitted on Thursday and will remain valid until Friday. Another cargo for September 23-24 loading will also be available, the sources said. The operator of the Agbami project is US major Chevron. Equity holders include State-run Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. and Norwegian company StatoilHydro.

Agbami is a high quality light, low-sulphur crude oil, which is easy to process into value added products such as gasoline and diesel and should be most in demand from oil refineries. The loading programs suggests the production level of Agbami is around 65,000 barrels per day (bpd). Its output is expected to peak at 250,000 bpd in 2010, making it the largest deepwater project in Nigeria, according to Chevron’s corporate website.

Nigeria’s other deep offshore operation is Royal Dutch Shell’s 220,000 bpd Bonga oilfield. Agbami’s start-up had been expected in June. But some industry officials said at the time that the project was delayed and the first oil was expected in August followed by the first cargo shipment soon after. Chevron did not confirm these months or the delay. In mid-July, a company spokeswoman said the project was in the final stages of hook-up and it expected first oil within a short timeframe.

The start of Agbami project will boost export volumes from Nigeria, Africa’s top oil producer and an OPEC member, which has been gripped by attacks on its oil facilities by insurgents and lawlessness in its oil-producing Niger Delta. September loading programs show Nigeria’s oil exports would total 2.02 million bpd in September. This volume does not reflect Agbami or a force majeure on exports of Bonny Light crude, the country’s major stream, following militant attacks to pipelines earlier this week. (Reuters)