The United States slashed its imports of Nigerian crude oil to 9.37 million barrels in the first five months of this year, 11.67 million barrels lower than what it bought in the same period of 2019.
The US imported 21.03 million barrels of Nigeria crude from January to May 2019, according to data obtained from the US Energy Information Administration on Friday.
The highest monthly volume of Nigerian crude purchased by the North American country so far this year was 2.12 million barrels, compared to 11.78 million barrels in 2019.
Its purchases plunged by 63.03 per cent in the first quarter of 2020 to 5.53 million barrels, compared to the last quarter of 2019 when it bought 15.07 million barrels from Nigeria.
The US bought 1.92 million barrels in January; 1.93 million barrels in February; 1.68 million barrels in March; 1.70 million barrels in April, and 2.12 million barrels in May, according to the EIA.
The US has significantly reduced imports of Nigerian crude oil in the past few years as the oil produced in its shale operations is similar to the light sweet Nigerian crude.
Following the coronavirus-induced crash in oil prices and demand, Nigeria has been struggling to sell its crude oil cargoes.
Prior to the lockdowns and collapse in crude oil demand caused by coronavirus crisis, the rise of US shale oil was already proving uniquely challenging for Nigeria.
Booming production from shale drastically cut Nigerian exports to the US – once the destination for about 40 per cent to 50 per cent of the country’s cargoes.
US imports of Nigerian crude fell from 148.48 million barrels in 2012 to 87.40 million barrels in 2013 on the back of the shale oil boom.
In 2014, when global oil prices started to fall from a peak of $115 per barrel, Nigeria saw a further drop in US imports of its crude to 21.24 million barrels.
For the first time in decades, the US did not purchase any barrel of Nigerian crude in July and August 2014 as well as June 2015, according to the EIA data.
In 2010, the US bought as much as 358.92 million barrels from Nigeria, but slashed its imports to 280.08 million barrels in 2011.
“The United States produces a large share of the petroleum it consumes, but it uses imports to help supply domestic and international markets,” the EIA said.
In 2019, the country produced about 19.25 million barrels per day of petroleum, and it consumed about 20.46 million bpd.
The agency said imports from other countries helped to supply domestic demand for petroleum.
“Some of the crude oil that the US imports are refined by US refineries into petroleum products (such as gasoline, heating oil, diesel fuel, and jet fuel) that the US exports,” it added.
According to the EIA, some of the imported petroleum may be stored and subsequently exported.
It said the country imported about 9.10 million bpd of petroleum in 2019 from about 90 countries, which included 6.8 million bpd of crude oil and 2.3 million bpd of non-crude petroleum liquids and refined petroleum products, adding this was the lowest level of total petroleum imports since 1996.