LONDON, April 24 (Reuters) - North Sea Forties crude price
differentials held steady on Wednesday as the May programme
continued to clear slowly and more cargoes were advanced.
At least nine May cargoes have now moved up the loading
schedule after better-than-expected production in April.
A small outage at the Buzzard oilfield on Sunday had little
impact, market participants said, with Buzzard back near its
maximum operating capacity of 210,000 barrels-per-day on
Traders said that the market for May cargoes had been very
weak and slow, although it has picked up a little lately, with
refineries such as Total's Donges now back from spring
'A weak North Sea was a big surprise to everybody - my guess
was that poor sweet refinery margins last week made people cut
runs, but now margins are on the way up again,' a trader said.
ATMI's booking of the Suezmax Glorycrown to take Forties to
the U.S. Gulf Coast on May 1 appears to have failed, traders
said. But BP's booking of the Suezmax Achilleas to take Ekofisk
to the U.S. Gulf Coast at end-April still seems to be going
* Shell sold a Forties cargo loading May 17-19 to Total at
dated Brent minus 25 cents. This was firmer than Monday's trade
at dated Brent minus 30 cents for Forties loading May 3-5, but
in line with Total's last bid on Tuesday for May 15-20 Forties.
* Total also bid for Forties loading May 6-11 at July cash
BFOE minus 90 cents.
* Mercuria was seeking Forties loading around May 17-21 at
dated Brent minus 30 cents.
* The swaps curve remained in contango, reflecting the
abundant supply of crude at the front end:
29-03/5 Jul -67
07-10/5 Jul -58
13-17/5 Jul -43
20-24/5 Jul -35
28-31/5 Jul -35
03-07/6 Jul -35
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(Reporting by Claire Milhench, editing by William Hardy)
Keywords: MARKETS EUROPE CRUDE/
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