By Libby George
LAGOS (Reuters) – The trading arm of Nigeria’s state oil firm is leaving London to set up in Dubai to be closer to the Asian market which is fast becoming the main buyer of the west African country’s crude, four oil industry sources said.
The move by Duke also has tax advantages over keeping the office in London, the sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.
While Africa’s biggest oil producer once sold much of its oil to the United States, the shale boom displaced that, and U.S. crude is now competing with Nigeria for buyers in Europe and Asia.
India is now the single largest buyer of Nigeria’s crude, and Asian refineries that have started over the past several years are also increasingly selling refined oil products such as gasoline and diesel to Nigerian buyers.
Duke is also one of the companies that swaps Nigerian oil for fuels, primarily gasoline, in order to supply domestic consumers.
Placing the traders in Dubai will also enable them to travel more easily between the new office, Nigeria, Europe and Asia.
In a filing with Companies House, Duke Oil Services, the part of the company officially registered in London, said it would wind down its operations in the second quarter of this year and move its office to an unspecified new country.
While the primary arm of the group, Duke Oil Company Inc, is registered in Panama, sources told Reuters that traders for Duke as well as the services arm are relocating from London to Dubai.
Duke, a fully owned subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), had been based at the corporation’s office in London’s Hammersmith neighbourhood.
NNPC did not return requests for comment on the move.
(Reporting By Libby George; Editing by Alexis Akwagyiram and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)