Rare Suezmax Gasoline Cargo Sails To West Africa

Nigeria's push to keep its citizens stocked with fuel is drawing close to a million tonnes a month of gasoline from Europe - including now on a rare Suezmax vessel booked by Vitol.

The country is working overtime to replenish its tanks after shortages and queues popped up across the nation of more than 180 million in early December - sparking a scramble for

state oil company

NNPC.

The restocking comes as gasoline demand in other regions was waning in winter, and has helped boost fuel and refining margins in Europe just as the continent's refineries prepare to shut for seasonal maintenance.

The Vitol-booked, 115,000-tonne cargo aboard the newly built Sea Icon is sailing to West Africa from the Latvian port of Ventspils, according to Reuters ship tracking and trading sources.

It is expected to arrive around Feb. 22, when it will offload its cargo to smaller vessels that can more easily sail into Nigeria's ports, which cannot accommodate the unusually large, "clean" ship.

While newly built Suezmax vessels and even very large crude carriers load so-called clean fuels such as gasoline on their first journey with some regularity, most of these carry distillates

from Asia

, where most shipyards are located.

Vitol used another Suezmax, the Star Energy, to move gasoline along the same route in September, traders said. Typically the ships begin to carry lucrative "dirty" fuel cargoes such as crude

oil after

their maiden journey.

The cargo adds to roughly 1 million tonnes that are already booke....

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