London - Oil theft looks set to push Nigeria off its spot as top African crude oil exporter in May and exports could fall to their lowest since records began in 2009, data indicated on Wednesday.
Nigerian exports in May are set to be at around 1.59 million barrels per day (bpd) excluding the Forcados and Ebok grades of crude oil, which had still not emerged.
Exports are far below the highs above 2.2 million bpd reached in 2011 and the May figure is set to fall beneath the exports of Angola, which is usually the continent's second largest exporter.
Angolan exports in May were set to be 1.67 million bpd, a provisional shipping list indicated.
Production of the Forcados grade has been hit by under water pipeline leakage due to oil theft which led operator Shell to declare a force majeure on the grade this week.
The problems affecting Forcados are the latest in a string of theft-related outages at major Nigerian grades, with Bonny Light production severely affected for much of last year.
Planned exports in April were initially seen at 1.73 million bpd, but were revised up to 1.86 million bpd after additional Bonny Light cargoes were added.
Traders said that it was likely that there would be no exports of Forcados for May, although should the pipeline be fixed soon there could yet be a small volume of this grade, which could push shipments above Angolan levels. - Reuters