In a significant revelation for Nigeria’s oil sector, Giovanni Serio, the global head of research at Vitol, the world’s largest independent oil trader, indicated on Wednesday that the nation’s oil markets are poised for balance, presenting a slight surplus in the coming year. This equilibrium is driven by a combination of robust local demand and unexpected growth in non-OPEC oil production.
Speaking at the FT Commodities Asia Summit, Serio emphasized that Nigeria’s oil demand has not only rebounded but has surpassed 2019 levels. This positive trend is expected to persist, especially as the oil intensity (the volume of oil consumed per unit of GDP) for the nation has returned to pre-pandemic levels.
Despite the promising demand outlook, Serio underscored the need for careful supply management. Major oil-producing nations, including Nigeria, are urged to implement measures to counterbalance the growing production from non-OPEC countries. He pointed out that Nigeria’s unexpected surge in oil output adds to the broader challenge of maintaining a delicate equilibrium in the global oil market.
“Demand is at 2.3 million barrels per day higher than 2019, and Nigeria, like other oil-producing nations, needs to strategically manage production to align with market demands,” Serio remarked.
Acknowledging the unpredicted demand surge, Serio stressed the importance of ensuring that supply remains only marginally higher than the levels during the COVID-19 period. This delicate balance is crucial for Nigeria to stabilize its oil market and ensure sustained growth.
As Nigeria grapples with these dynamics, the global crude price of Brent has experienced fluctuations, currently standing just above $82 a barrel. Concerns about economic growth and global demand uncertainties have impacted prices, despite ongoing efforts by OPEC and its allies to stabilize the market and geopolitical tensions in the Middle East.
Serio also provided insights into Nigeria’s refining sector, suggesting a potential slowdown in the coming year. However, he anticipates that capacity could tighten again in the 2028-2035 period due to low investments, emphasizing the importance of strategic planning for Nigeria’s refining capabilities.
Addressing refined fuels within the Nigerian context, Serio expressed that it is premature to conclude that gasoline demand has peaked. Steady sales of gasoline cars and the anticipation of significant net additions to the car fleet in Nigeria next year contribute to this optimistic outlook.
In contrast, the demand for bunkering, or marine fuel, within Nigeria is showing signs of plateauing due to enhanced ship efficiency and the increasing use of alternative fuels. Serio anticipates jet fuel demand in Nigeria to return to pre-COVID 2019 levels next year, emphasizing the challenging nature of the aviation sector’s decarbonization.
As Nigeria navigates the intricacies of its oil market, Serio’s insights offer valuable perspectives on how the nation can strategically position itself amid global challenges and contribute to the equilibrium of the broader oil landscape.