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

GENEVA, Oct 11 (Reuters) - U.S. imports of light, sweet crude oil - mostly West African - will fall to virtually zero by 2014 as rising domestic shale oil production and refinery closures sap demand, according to an executive of Total's trading arm.

New U.S. shale provinces are now pumping more than a million barrels per day (bpd)and the hydrocarbons produced are similar to top quality grades produced in Africa, such as Nigerian benchmark grade Bonny Light.

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

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

Traders said that around 800,000 barrels per day is currently sent from West Africa to the United States, although this is far below peak levels. One trader said that exports flows to the United States were more than double the current level in 2010.

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

Imports of West African crude oil by Asian refiners and end-users reached 1.69 million barrels per day this month, up 10 percent 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 04 731)(Reuters Messaging: emma.farge.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))