Nigerian crude oil cargoes struggling to find buyers
Nigerian crude oil grades continued to struggle on Tuesday, weighed down by a surplus of unsold June loading cargoes as the July programmes emerged.
Some 20 cargoes remained from the June loading programme, out of a total of 60 and down from closer to 30 a week ago.
July programmes are starting to emerge, with Qua Iboe, Forcados and Bonga, along with few smaller grades, traders said, adding that this constituted “huge volume” for the market to digest, Reuters reported.
Shipments of Bonny Light were still halted following the declaration of force majeure by Royal Dutch Shell late last week after a problem on the Nembe Creek trunk line.
A separate shutdown of the Trans Forcados Pipeline since last week has forced a number of June loading cargoes of this grade to be delayed till July.
Meanwhile, lawyers for the Bodo community in the Niger Delta, which was devastated by two major oil spills a decade ago, went to court in London on Tuesday to fend off what they said was an attempt by Shell to kill off their litigation.
The Bodo oil spills have been the subject of years of legal wrangling. In 2015, Shell accepted liability for the spills, agreeing to pay £55m ($83m at the time) to Bodo villagers and to clean up their lands and waterways.
After years of delays, the clean-up in Bodo is currently underway and litigation in the London High Court is stayed, or on hold.
Lawyers for Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited, the Nigerian arm of Shell, argued on Tuesday that the litigation should be struck off in October 2018, or at the latest a year later, and that it should only be re-activated if the SPDC failed to comply with its obligation to pay for the clean-up.
Lawyers for the Bodo community, however, said that was unacceptable, because the clean-up could go wrong for any number of reasons and that under Shell’s proposal, the villagers would be left without the recourse of going back to court.
“The effect of what Shell is trying to do is to kill off the case,” said Dan Leader, the Bodo community’s lead lawyer, on the sidelines of the hearing, adding, “It’s only because of the pressure of litigation that the clean-up is getting back on track.”
But Shell’s lawyers, citing an earlier judgment, compared the stayed litigation to a “gun in the cupboard” that the Bodo community’s lawyers wanted to be able to hold to Shell’s head at their convenience, for years on end.