Differentials for Nigerian crude oil held above the lows set last month, supported by higher refining margins in Europe, traders said on Friday.
Nigerian crude oil is favoured by European refiners as it is light and sweet in quality, suiting the relatively unsophisticated plants in the region.
Poor margins and sluggish demand in Europe had pushed differentials of the benchmark Qua Iboe grade of crude oil to below $1 above dated Brent for some August and September barrels, but they have recovered for October cargoes.
However refining margins have recovered to nearly $7 per barrel now from below $1 per barrel in June, according to Reuters data.
Traders said that the upside for differentials was likely to be limited, however, due to strong supply and forthcoming refinery maintenance in Europe.
Around half of the 63 cargoes for October export had found buyers, traders said.
Qua Iboe: Offers heard to be between dated Brent plus $1.90 to $2.10, depending on dates. Traders assessed the grade at around dated Brent plus $1.40 to $1.50.
Nigeria is scheduled to export about 1.86 million barrels per day of crude in October, according to loading schedules.
Only around 10 October cargoes of 55 initially offered for sale are still available about 10 days before November cargoes come to market.
Most grades have cleared including Hungo, Girassol, Cabinda, Saturno, Pazflor and CLOV.
IOC will issue a tender next week for November loading barrels, traders said.
Pertamina, which had been expected to award a tender for November-arriving cargoes on Monday, has reissued the tender, a trader said.