US import of Nigerian oil hits five-year high

The import of Nigerian crude oil by the United States rose by 48 per cent to 112.92 million barrels last year, the highest annual level in five years.

The latest data from the US Energy Information Administration seen by our correspondent on Friday showed that the country imported 75.81 million barrels of Nigerian oil in 2016, up from 19.86 million barrels in 2015.

US import of Nigerian crude fell from 148.48 million barrels in 2012 to 87.40 million barrels in 2013 on the back of shale oil boom, the data showed.

In 2014, when global oil prices started to fall from a peak of $115 per barrel, Nigeria saw a further drop in the US imports of its crude to 21.2 million barrels.

For the first time in decades, the US did not purchase any barrel of Nigerian crude in July and August 2014 and June 2015, according to the EIA data.

In 2010, the US bought as much as 358.9 million barrels from Nigeria, but slashed its imports to 280.1 million barrels in 2011.

US crude oil and petroleum product gross exports, according to the EIA, have more than doubled over the past six years, increasing from 2.4 million barrels per day in 2010 to 5.2 million bpd in 2016.

Restrictions on exporting domestically produced crude oil were lifted in December 2015, and in 2016, the US exported an average of 520,000 bpd. US crude oil exports reached 1.1 million bpd in February 2017, the highest monthly level on record.

While Canada remains the largest destination for US crude oil exports, Canada’s share of the total US crude oil exports has declined, dropping from 92 per cent in 2015 (427,000 bpd) to 58 per cent in 2016 (301,000 bpd). Other leading destinations for US crude oil in 2016 included the Netherlands, Curacao, China, Italy and the United Kingdom.

Last month, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, said Nigeria had forever lost the United States as a significant crude export market.

“That’s gone,” Kachikwu was quoted by Platts to have said during a news conference at the CERAWeek in Houston, Texas, United States.

Light sweet Nigerian crude is very similar to the light oil produced in US shale. As US shale production has grown, the appetite for Nigerian crude in the US dropped dramatically.