Oil prices have spiked after two vessels were seemingly attacked in the Gulf of Oman, one of the world’s most important shipping lanes, yesterday. The Front Altair and the Kokuka Courageous were both hit, forcing their crews to be evacuated. Mapping data shows that both ships suddenly halted, a month after a similar attack on four boats in the area. Video footage and photos showed fire and smoke erupting from one of the two ships. No-one has claimed responsibility for the attacks, but a US official claimed that Iran was ‘highly likely’ to be behind them. Iran, though, insisted that it was not to blame – calling the attacks more than suspicious. Fears of military conflict between Washington and Tehran sent the oil price up over 4.5%, with Brent crude hitting $62.64 per barrel and US crude touching $53.45, up from Wednesday’s five-month lows.

The Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Hameed Ali, says that the FG may ease the ban on importation of vehicles through Nigeria’s land borders. Importation of vehicles through the land borders has been banned since January 2017, but Nigeria and Benin have successfully tested a system to automate and network all electronic information about incoming cargoes through the border. Ali expressed confidence that with the successful implementation of the bilateral electronic connectivity programme between the countries, the FG will lift the ban on items coming through the land border. The establishment of the automated platform and bilateral connectivity means that any vehicle that leaves the Republic of Benin, would have its information remotely sent in English to Nigeria’s Customs Service system. The effort is expected to also check illegal checkpoints mounted by Customs officers and other security agencies along the border corridors. The new platform would be deployed by 20 June.

The head of Ghana’s cocoa regulator, Joseph Boahen Aidoo, says cocoa buyers and processors meeting in Accra this week agreed to a floor price for beans of $2,600 per ton proposed by top producers Ivory Coast and Ghana. The agreement, which represents a step forward for cooperation efforts by Ivory Coast and Ghana, seeks to exercise more influence over the market to ensure the industry benefits their farmers and economies. Aidoo said it is not entirely clear how the process will work, but a technical meeting will be held in July in Ivory Coast to nail down the practicalities. During the 2020-21 season Ghana will only sell cocoa at the minimum price of $2,600 a ton, Aidoo said. Both countries are expected to manage production and are working to boost cocoa demand to offset any “marginal” increase in output as a result of the floor price. Ivory Coast and Ghana account for about 60 percent of global cocoa supply. A $2,600 minimum price would probably result in overproduction, Carlos Mera, an analyst at Rabobank, told Bloomberg. The $2,600/ton floor price compares with $2,541 a ton for cocoa for September delivery Wednesday, and $2,574 for December 2020 contracts.

A report from OPEC shows that Nigeria earned a total of $236.15 billion from petroleum exports between 2014 and 2018. The breakdown of the figure, according to OPEC’s 2019 Annual Statistical Bulletin, showed that the country exported $75.196 billion in 2014; $41.168 billion in 2015; $27.295 billion in 2016; $37.983 billion in 2017, and $54.513 billion in 2018. The value of the country’s petroleum exports in 2018 was the sixth biggest in the 14-member group, according to OPEC, coming behind Saudi Arabia’s $194.358 billion, UAE’s $74.94 billion, Iraq’s $68.192 billion, Iran’s $60.198 billion and Kuwait’s $58.393 billion. OPEC noted the continued improvement in the diversification of member countries’ economies as they become less dependent on petroleum export revenues. During the period under review, the organisation recorded a decrease of about 6 percentage points export in revenue to GDP. OPEC said the trend of diversification was also confirmed when analysing the share of non-petroleum export revenues to GDP at comparable oil price levels.