* Cargo to arrive in second week of May to Bahia Blanca port
* Argentina lifted restrictions on crude imports in January
(Adds details of transaction, background on Argentina and West
By Marianna Parraga and Alejandro Lifschitz
HOUSTON/BUENOS AIRES, April 25 Argentina's
state-run oil company YPF awarded a tender to buy a 1
million-barrel cargo of Nigerian Bonny Light crude to trading
firm Vitol, sources close to the transaction told
Reuters on Friday.
This marks the first time the South American country, which
produces 700,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil according to the
U.S. Energy Information Administration, has agreed to buy
Nigerian crude since it lifted restrictions on crude imports in
The measure was taken to buy cheaper crudes instead of
importing more expensive finished fuels, the government said.
"The cargo will be delivered in the second week of May at
Bahia Blanca port and then the crude will be distributed by
Enarsa to several Argentine refineries, including Campana, La
Plata and Buenos Aires," one of the sources said.
Enarsa, another Argentine state-run oil company, will be in
charge of receiving the cargo and will deliver the crude to
refining companies. Axion Energy's 90,000 bpd Campana refinery,
the country's fourth-largest, is undergoing a planned major
YPF declined to comment and Vitol was not immediately
Traders expect the state-run company to keep buying light
crudes to combine with local output of heavy and medium grades.
While Argentina's oil output becomes heavier, as is the case
in the rest of Latin America, it can now access cheap West
African light crudes to feed domestic refineries and produce a
larger volume of finished fuels such as gasoline and diesel.
Nigeria's Bonny Light is a sweet crude with a density of 35
API degrees, produced by several foreign companies at the Niger
Delta basin, including U.S. oil company Chevron Corp and
West African countries including Nigeria are looking for new
markets for their crudes since the growing domestic oil output
in the United States reduced North American demand for light
Switching from importing gasoline and another fuels to
buying light crude would also save millions of dollars for
Argentina, while its domestic crude production falls. In 2013,
the country spent $14 billion on fuel imports, mostly liquefied
natural gas (LNG).
Earlier this month, YPF launched two tenders to buy up to
three 50,000 metric ton cargoes (some 375,000 barrels) of fuel
oil to be delivered to Argentina's electric market administrator
for thermoelectrical production.
(Editing by Matthew Lewis)