UPDATE 2-N.Sea oil flows to rise 3 pct in December

Fri Nov 11, 2011 1:43pm EST

Related Topics

* Higher Forties supply lifts volumes

* Output still down from 2010 levels

* Table on North Sea loadings:

By Emma Farge

LONDON, Nov 11 (Reuters) - Crude oil output from nine North Sea grades is set to rise by nearly 3 percent in December from the previous month on higher supplies of the UK grade Forties, trade sources said on Friday.

Output from nine key grades will average around 1.842 million barrels per day (bpd) compared with a planned 1.792 million bpd in November, traders said, citing provisional loading programmes.

If a broader range of 12 grades is taken including Asgard, Alvheim and Grane, output is expected to be 2.357 million bpd, the data showed.

A jump of around 60,000 bpd in planned flows of the Forties stream was a factor behind the month-on-month rise, although a technical glitch on the Buzzard field earlier this week has stoked fears of shipping disruptions. This led to a delay in the planned loading dates for a late-November Forties cargo.

Supplies from Nexen's Buzzard field, usually the largest contributor to Forties, have since recovered to over 200,000 bpd, traders said.

North Sea production of conventional oil is in chronic decline, and this year's December figure for the nine grades still is down around 11 percent versus the same month in 2010, Reuters data showed.

Forties typically sets the value of the dated Brent benchmark, used to price up to 70 percent of the world's physical cargoes.

MAINTENANCE ENDS

Output of some Norwegian grades such as Gullfaks and Duc is also projected to be higher in December, lifting overall volumes.

This follows maintenance work at Statoil's North Sea Visund platform in October, which feeds into the Gullfaks grade. December volumes are set to rise to 110,000 bpd from 85,500 in November, provisional programmes showed.

Still, differentials in the North Sea remained firm compared with trading levels last week.

"It's slightly better (supplies) for December, although it all seems quite firm at the moment," said a North Sea trader.

Forties differentials turned positive earlier this week as some European refiners switched from Urals to North Sea grades, traders said.

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