It has been said that West African crude producers are at a critical juncture, as growing North American shale oil output has displaced their crude, all but closing down former export routes to the US. Market participants have to judge export opportunities to Europe, India or northeast Asia, and must gauge the changing attractiveness of differing grades of crude depending on their suitability for producing different products in each market.
At the same time however, West African refining capacity continues to lag far behind growing regional demand for products, making the region an attractive destination for European refiners, particularly those geared to export gasoline surpluses. However, this flow is coming under threat from US exporters seeking buyers for their surplus products. Many West African grades of crude are openly traded and assessed by price reporting agencies such as Argus. Argus has actually identified daily prices for regional crudes since the 1980s, yet the market for many other grades remains less transparent. Similarly, the market for refined products imported by West African consumers lacks transparency.
Edited from press release by Claira Lloyd