Nigeria has replaced Saudi Arabia as the largest crude oil supplier to India after its oil exports to India last month surged by nearly 200 percent, supplying some 745,000 barrels per day. It’s the first time in at least four years that Saudi Arabia, the world’s top crude exporter, has lost the top spot, according to Reuters.
The shift comes as more Indian refiners switch out their long-term contracts with Middle East suppliers in favor of African oil spot purchases. Saudi Arabia also fell behind Russia and Angola last month as the largest crude supplier to China. The petroleum kingpin struggles to maintain market share in Asia as the gap narrows between the Middle East price marker and the international crude oil benchmark Brent, Reuters reported.
India’s African oil imports rose to the highest in more than four years, from 15.5 percent in April to 26 percent in May with tankers mainly from Nigeria and Angola. Meanwhile, the share of Middle Eastern oil to India fell to 54 percent in May from 61 percent in April, with Saudi Arabia supplying some 732,400 barrels per day, according to Reuters.
Oil prices have dropped for Nigeria’s premium over Brent in recent months, which have made the former more attractive to importers. Over the weekend, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation reduced the prices of Nigeria’s crude oil grades to their lowest in over a decade as the West African nation fights for international market share. Nigeria’s exports to the United States have also shrunk from almost one million barrels per day in 2010 to just 30,000 this year, according to Vanguard news in Abuja.
The falling global oil prices have posed tough challenges for oil-dependent Nigeria. Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy and lead oil producer, generating about $70 billion in state revenue each year – more than two-thirds of which comes from exports in gas and oil.