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North Sea Crude: Forties slips, April output set to rise

North Sea Crude: Forties slips, April output set to riseLONDON: North Sea Forties crude price differentials fell on Monday with one cargo trading at dated Brent minus 45 cents, whilst April daily loadings looked set to rise month-on-month.

Output from 12 of the main British and Norwegian crude streams tracked by Reuters is set to average 2.019 million barrels per day (bpd) in April, up 6 percent from a revised 1.904 million bpd in March, loading programmes showed.

The rise is partly due to the fact that April is a shorter month, with total volumes rising just 2.7 percent month-on-month, boosted by higher loadings of DUC and some of the Norwegian grades.

Traders said this could weigh on differentials and Brent crude oil futures given that European refiners would still be in the middle of spring maintenance, reducing the demand for crude.

“April strength caught people by surprise,” one trader said. “I think once April futures roll off, we will retest floating (storage) economics.”

The April Brent futures contract expires on Monday. The contango at the front of the futures curve narrowed in the run up to expiry, touching 6 cents a barrel on Friday. The contango between May and June is much wider, at around $ 1 a barrel.

The Forties Echo platform was shut after a supply vessel collided with it on Monday morning, operator Apache North Sea said. A spokesman was unable to say when production would restart.

Output from the Buzzard field accounted for 41 percent of the Forties crude stream in the week March 9-15, down slightly from 46 percent in the week March 2-8.

Copyright Reuters, 2015

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