Nigeria's state oil company has delayed publishing its future oil export plans as it negotiates with local companies and international majors about how to cut output in line with a global deal on production curbs, trading sources said.
Official selling prices (OSPs) for Nigerian oil, usually issued in the second or third week of each month, had still not been issued on Monday. The global supply deal, agreed by the OPEC+ group of oil producers, is due to go into effect on May 1.
Traders expect the May OSPs to fall below April's record lows published by Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
Traders of Nigerian oil told Reuters that Nigeria, an OPEC member, had revised its May programs for oil cargoes and would also have to lower its output in June, based on the OPEC+ deal.
"May cargoes will get delayed and new June cargoes may be relatively few," one of the sources said.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Russia, and other allied producers agreed to cut their combined output by 9.7 million barrels per day, or each reducing its production by more than 20%. The first round of cuts will run in May and June. Reductions will be less severe after that.
"The NNPC is working out the cuts for the international oil companies. That's why the program for June and OSP for May is yet to come out," another trading source said.
The NNPC, which has not issued any public notice of delays or output cuts, needs to discuss reductions with companies working in the country, including oil majors Royal Dutch Shell, BP, Exxon Mobil, Eni, and Chevron.
A source at an oil major operating in Nigeria said the discussions were ongoing, noting that agreement on precise output allocations for each company remained a hurdle.
"This hasn't been done before", the source added.
Two industry sources said talks ranged from a blanket percentage output cut for all players to focusing the output curbs more on offshore fields that are not run by a joint venture with NNPC."
Brent crude, the benchmark against which Nigerian oil trades on the global market, fell to its lowest in two decades last week before staging a modest recovery. Brent was trading around $20 a barrel on Monday.
Traders said Nigeria's key crude grade Bonny Light was heard to be offered at as low as dated Brent minus $5, compared with a premium of $3 in more normal market conditions.
Surging inventories, as demand for oil has tumbled due to global measures to fight the coronavirus, have made it a challenge for some producers to find buyers for their oil.
At least three dozen Nigerian crude cargoes are still available for export in April and May and the country has minimal domestic storage.
NNPC head Mele Kyari told Nigerian media last week that Nigeria had to cut output because of scarce storage capacity.
In addition, major markets, such as Europe and Asia, spurned West African crude in favor of oil from producers that lie closer to them, cutting down on shipping times amid the market uncertainty and reducing freight costs.
(Reporting by Noah Browning, Ron Bousso and Julia Payne in London and Libby George in Lagos ; Editing by Catherine Evans, Edmund Blair and Steve Orlofsky)