UPDATE 1-North Sea Ekofisk oil loadings delayed, support Brent
* Three September cargoes delayed into October-sources
* Adds to supply glitches underpinning Brent crude
By Alex Lawler
LONDON, Aug 21 (Reuters) - North Sea Ekofisk crude oil cargoes loading in September have been delayed due to lower-than-expected production, industry sources said on Wednesday, reducing supply of crude which helps set the Brent benchmark.
The glitches at Ekofisk - a Norwegian crude operated by U.S. oil firm ConocoPhillips - add to the supply hiccups, such as export disruptions in Libya, that analysts say are underpinning Brent crude prices near $110 a barrel.
September's loading programme originally listed 15 cargoes of 600,000 barrels each, or 300,000 barrels per day. Three cargoes numbered C11420, C11429 and C11417 - will now load in October, while other September shipments have been delayed by three to four days, the sources said.
"I believe they're back on plan now," said an industry source, referring to Ekofisk production levels. "But it has had quite a big impact."
The exact reason for the drop in production was not clear although some oilfields that are part of the Ekofisk system have been having problems. BP Plc said last week production was shut at some small fields whose oil is exported via BP's Ula field and the Ekofisk field centre.
Brent is based on four North Sea crudes - Brent itself, Forties, Oseberg and Ekofisk (BFOE). Before the changes to Ekofisk loadings, the four were set to pump around 880,000 bpd in September, compared with 793,000 bpd in August.
The delay of the three Ekofisk cargoes into October would reduce its September supply, and of BFOE overall, by 60,000 bpd - other things being equal. Loading programmes are often revised according to actual rather than planned production rates.
Conoco in the UK could not immediately be reached for comment on Ekofisk output and loadings on Wednesday.
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