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Tankers: West Africa Crude Oil Exports on The Decline

Tanker loadings from West Africa proved to be problematic numbers-wise, during 2020. In its latest weekly report, shipbroker Banchero Costa said that ‘2020 was overall a very negative year for crude oil trade, although of course the tanker market was partially shielded by the increased demand for floating storage. Total loadings in the 12 months of 2020 were down -5.6% year-on-year to 2027 million tonnes, according to vessels tracking data from Refinitiv”.

According to the shipbroker, “some exporters were more affected than others. Crude shipments from Saudi Arabia went down by -3.2% y-o-y in 2020 to 357.7 mln tonnes. Exports from the rest of the Arabian Gulf went down by -9.3% y-o-y to 494.3 mln tonnes. Seaborne volumes from Russia went down by -13.9% y-o-y in 2020 to 193.9 mln tonnes. Shipments from the USA still managed to increase by +7.2% y-o-y to 137.9 mln tonnes, although the rate of growth was significantly slower than the +47.7% y-o-y recorded in 2019. West Africa’s performance was pretty average in this context. In 2020, West Africa exported 205.9 mln tonnes of seaborne crude oil, which represented a -8.9% y-o-y decline compared to 2019.

Source: banchero costa &c s.p.a.

West Africa accounted for 10.1% of global seaborne crude oil trade last year, ahead of Russia and ahead of the United States. In the first 3 months of 2020, West Africa exported 56.1 mln tonnes of crude oil, up +3.3% y-o-y. The second quarter of 2020 saw shipments of 52.5 mln tonnes from West Africa, down -6.2% y-o-y. In the third quarter, exports declined to 48.6 mln tonnes, which was down -17.8% y-o-y. The fourth quarter of 2020 saw 48.7 mln tonnes, down -14.2% on a yearon-year basis”, said Banchero Costa.

Meanwhile, “exports in the Jan-Feb period of 2021 were barely 29.3 mln tonnes, which was down -20.8% y-o-y on the same two-month period last year. Of the total last year, 87.3 mln tonnes were loaded in Nigeria, 64.0 mln tonnes in Angola, 14.6 mln tonnes in Congo (Brazzaville), 9.9 in Cameroon, 9.7 in Gabon, 9.0 in Ghana, 5.8 in Equatorial Guinea, 2.9 in Togo, 1.4 in Cote D’Ivoire. Trade patterns continue to shift, in ways both expected and unexpected. Of total exports last year from West Africa, 32.5% or 66.9 mln tonnes were destined for Mainland China. Volumes to China last year actually declined by -8.8% y-o-y. A further 45.0 mln tonnes, accounting for 21.9% of the total, were shipped to the European Union (excluding the UK). Shipments to Europe declined very sharply last year, by -18.6% y-o-y compared to 2019, although we have to remember that 2019 was an exceptionally positive year on this route. Shipments to India last year declined by -22.0% y-o-y. 22.2 mln tonnes, or 10.8% of the total, were shipped to India”.

Source: banchero costa &c s.p.a.

“The most significant trend in recent years has been the drying up of the American market, and this continued last year as well. Oil shipments from West Africa to the USA crashed by -63.0% y-o-y in 2020, to just 4.6 mln tonnes. This was down from 12.3 mln tonnes in 2019, from 15.6 mln tonnes in 2018, and 19.6 mln tonnes in 2017. The USA now account for just 2.2% of West Africa’s oil exports, down from 9% in 2017. On the other hand, new markets are opening up. Exports from West Africa to South Africa increased by +3.8% y-o-y to 10.8 mln tonnes. South Africa now accounts for a 5.2% market share. Even more significantly, there has been a huge jump in exports to South East Asia. Shipments to Thailand surged by +152% y-o-y to 5.4 mln tonnes. Volumes to Malaysia jumped by +28% y-o-y to 6.4 mln tonnes. Singapore clocked in a +86% increase y-o-y to 4.5 mln tonnes”, Banchero Costa concluded.
Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide

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