Differentials for Nigerian crude held unchanged on Thursday, as sellers refused to cut their offer prices despite a growing surplus of oil and expensive freight rates that have paralysed spot activity, trading sources said.

Rates for taking cargoes of West African crude to Asia have eased a little in the latest week, but are still just shy of their highest levels in two years. The daily rate for a VLCC sailing between the Bonny Light terminal and a major Chinese port, for example, rose as high as 96 in World Scale, from closer to 60 a month ago.

Spot trade has been thin for Nigerian crude, and sellers were coming under increasing pressure to cut their offer prices, one trading source said. A significant portion of the 64-strong December loading programme for Nigeria was still said to be up for grabs, two traders said.

Key grades such as Bonny Light and Qua Iboe have been offered this week at a premium of $1.75 a barrel to dated Brent, but no cargoes have changed hands.

Source: Reuters