Crude Oil Qualities in South Sudan

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South Sudan produces two main blends of crude oil: Nile, a light, sweet and waxy blend, and Dar, a heavy and sour blend that is more difficult to refine.[1]

Nile blend

Nile blend is a light, sweet waxy crude located mostly in the Muglad Basin, which straddles the border between South Sudan and Sudan. Nile blend had an API gravity high of 36.2, reported in April 2000, which subsequently declined to 33.7 API by June 2002, indicating a somewhat heavier crude than previously reported. Nile has a 0.05 weight percentage of sulfur. The first exports of Nile blend began in September 1999, through a pipeline to an export terminal on the Red Sea.[2]

Dar blend

The low quality Dar blend is found in the Melut Basin east of the White Nile, mostly in South Sudan but extending northward into Sudan.[3] Dar blend has a gravity of 26.4 API, according to energy consultancy Platts, and a sulphur content of 0.12 percent.[4] Because Dar is a heavy paraffinic oil, it needs to be transported at high temperatures (45-50 degrees celsius) to avoid congealing in its storage tanks in ships. Additionally, its high acidity means that it will erode ordinary refinery metalwork. Dar blend contains high levels of arsenic, which acts as a pollutant to refinery catalysts. The combined effects of these properties make it unacceptable for many customers; some customers, meanwhile, blend it with other components in order to sell it as fuel oil. As of 2008, plans were in place to build a refinery at Port Sudan to treat Dar blend, but as of June 2012 construction on this refinery had not yet begun.[3]

Crude oil pricing

Nile blend is sold at much higher prices than Dar, according to an April 2008 report funded by the European Union.[5]

The South Sudan Development Plan 2011-2013, released by the government in August 2011, produced a list of oil price assumptions for Nile and Dar blends relative to the benchmark Brent price for the years 2011, 2012 and 2013, in each of which Nile Blend was sold at a US $2 discount from the Brent price and Dar Blend was sold at a US $10 discount from Brent.[6]

Bloomberg News in January 2012 obtained a tender document detailing a proposed sale of the two blends of crude by the Ministry of Petroleum of South Sudan. The document detailed the sale of 4.7 million barrels of Dar Blend, to be loaded in February 2012, at Dated Brent pricing,[7] which in February stood at US $119.70 per barrel;[8] along with 1.3 million barrels of Nile Blend at Indonesian Crude Price (ICP) Minas pricing,[7] which in February 2012 stood at US $124.63 per barrel.[9]

India's Oil & Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) sold a cargo of Nile Blend at a record premium - US $3 per barrel - in December 2011 after a dispute between South Sudan and Sudan over pipeline transit fees reduced supplies, India's Economic Times reported.[10] Previously, in November 2011, South Sudan had sold a cargo of Nile Blend crude to Chinaoil at a premium of US $1.20 a barrel. Reuters reported at the time that this was the highest premium in at least four years as fears of possible confrontation with neighbouring Sudan drove up prices; Nile Blend's spot premium had last surged more than $1 a barrel in 2007 when a massive earthquake rocked Japan.[11]

References

  1. "Oil production estimates for Sudan and South Sudan are cut amid revenue-sharing dispute" International Energy Agency, 15 February 2012.
  2. "Crude Grade : NILE BLEND" Petro Tech Intel, Retrieved 4 June 2012.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "SUDAN’S OIL INDUSTRY Facts and Analysis, April 2008" European Union, April 2008.
  4. "METHODOLOGY AND SPECIFICATIONS GUIDE" Platts, May 2012.
  5. "SUDAN’S OIL INDUSTRY Facts and Analysis, April 2008" European Union, April 2008.
  6. "South Sudan Development Plan 2011-2013" Government of the Republic of South Sudan, August 2011.
  7. 7.0 7.1 "South Sudan Offers Nile, Dar Blend Crude Cargoes For February" Bloomberg, 13 January 2012.
  8. "Crude Oil (petroleum); Dated Brent Monthly Price - US Dollars per Barrel" Index Mundi, 10 July 2012.
  9. "Indonesia Pertamina sets Feb term Minas price at $124.63/bbl, up $6.25/bbl" RIM Intelligence Co, 1 March 2012.
  10. "ONGC sells Sudan Nile Blend crude for January at a record premium to Arcadia" The Economic Times, 27 December 2011.
  11. "S. Sudan sells Dec Nile Blend; highest in 4 years" Reuters Africa, 8 November 2011.