Sweet oil flows to U.S. will dry up by 2014-Total


GENEVA, Oct 11 (Reuters) - U.S. imports of light, sweetcrude oil - mostly West African - will fall to virtually zero by2014 as rising domestic shale oil production and refineryclosures sap demand, according to an executive of Total'strading arm.

New U.S. shale provinces are now pumping more than a millionbarrels per day (bpd)and the hydrocarbons produced are similarto top quality grades produced in Africa, such as Nigerianbenchmark grade Bonny Light.

"We see light sweet imports maintaining their steady pace ofdecline of 400,000 barrels per day per year so by 2014 they willbe very, very low levels," said Thomas Waymel, seniorvice-president of crude supply and trading at a conferenceorganised by Oil Price Reporting Agency Argus in Geneva.

U.S. imports of light, sweet - or low sulphur content - oilare mostly sourced from West Africa, although cargoes areoccasionally sent from the North Sea or from Libya.

Traders said that around 800,000 barrels per day iscurrently sent from West Africa to the United States, althoughthis is far below peak levels. One trader said that exportsflows to the United States were more than double the currentlevel in 2010.

The surplus volumes of light, sweet oil in Africa and Europewill likely be diverted to Asian buyers, Waymel said.

Imports of West African crude oil by Asian refiners andend-users reached 1.69 million barrels per day this month, up 10percent from September and at a record high for October.

(Reporting by Emma Farge)

((emma.farge@thomsonreuters.com)(+41 22 733 38 31, +41 79 89 04731)(Reuters Messaging:emma.farge.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))