January 15, 2013 / 3:45 PM / in 5 years

UPDATE 2-Nigeria's key oil export grade suffers delays

* Qua Iboe cargoes delayed in February to March

* Last of several force majeures to be lifted

* Nigerian exports seen rising in February (Recasts, adds details of Qua loading problems)

By Emma Farge

GENEVA, Jan 15 (Reuters) - Nigeria’s Qua Iboe oil grade will suffer delays in February, trade sources said on Tuesday, just one month after operator Exxon lifted a force majeure on the major export grade.

Oil supplies in the top African producer were due to rise in February by around 10 percent after flooding and theft late last year caused major disruptions to exports.

But the disruptions to Qua Iboe loadings mean that three out of 11 cargoes originally scheduled to load in February will be delayed until March, trade sources said.

The reason for the delays was not immediately clear, although one trader attributed it to an unrealistically high production forecast for February.

“It’s just an adjustment of production, that was forecast too optimistic,” said a West African crude trader.

Earlier on Tuesday, Italian oil firm Eni lifted its force majeure on Nigerian oil exports, raising hopes that supply problems would end in the West African country.

Eni first declared force majeure - a clause that means a company will not be able to meet its contractual obligations due to events beyond its control - in early November.

Traders had reported delays of more than a month for Brass River crude, which typically accounts for around 5 percent of total Nigerian exports.

“The force majeure has been lifted effective 0800 Nigerian time (0700 GMT) on Tuesday 15th January,” the source said.

Eni could not immediately be reached for official comment.

Oil producer Shell also declared three force majeures on its Nigerian oil and gas output in the fourth quarter of 2012.

Nigeria is due to export around 2.18 million barrels per day in February or around 10 percent more than in January.

Nigeria is Africa’s largest oil producer and typically exports more than 2 million bpd. (Editing by James Jukwey and Keiron Henderson)

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