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OPEC oil output hits highest since 2008 – survey

OPEC oil output hits highest since 2008 – survey

Libya again leads increase in OPEC oil supply; OPEC output almost 1 million barrels per day above target; OPEC sec-gen says not worried about extra production

February 1, 2012 1:19 by



OPEC oil output in January has hit its highest in more than three years, a Reuters survey found on Tuesday, as Gulf Arab producers showed little sign yet of lowering output to make way for rising Libyan supply.

Supply from all 12 members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries totalled 30.95 million barrels per day (bpd), up from 30.74 million bpd in December, the survey of sources at oil companies, OPEC officials and analysts found.

The survey suggests OPEC is producing almost a million barrels per day more than its target of 30 million bpd. But analysts say concern over supplies from OPEC member Iran is helping to support prices, which are well above $100 a barrel .

“There’s very little evidence the Gulf countries have brought output down,” said Paul Tossetti, an analyst at PFC Energy. “The market is really well supplied and prices are strong, which must be partly due to geopolitical concerns.”

The biggest increase in OPEC supply once again has come from Libya, where output continues to recover after being virtually shut down during the 2011 uprising that toppled Muammar Gaddafi.

Libyan oil exports and refinery demand have climbed to 930,000 bpd in January, according to the survey, up 180,000 bpd from December. The survey is still finding lower figures than those given by Libyan officials.

January’s total is OPEC’s highest since October 2008, shortly before the group agreed to a series of supply curbs to combat recession, based on Reuters surveys.

In an interview with Reuters on Monday, OPEC’s Secretary General Abdullah al-Badri said he was not concerned about too much oil in the market, adding OPEC’s production would vary month to month.

Oil prices pared an earlier gain on Tuesday. Brent crude was up 4 cents to $110.79 a barrel as of 1655 GMT.

GULF OUTPUT
The survey found little evidence Gulf Arab OPEC producers are curbing output drastically, so far, to make way for increased Libyan output.

Saudi Arabia and its Gulf OPEC allies raised production unilaterally in the second half of 2011 after failing to convince Iran and other members to agree to a coordinated increase to meet the shortfall in supplies from Libya.

OPEC settled the six-month-old argument at its December meeting in Vienna meeting by adopting the 30 million bpd target.

Supply from Saudi Arabia was thought to be slightly higher in January than December, according to sources in the survey. Output was stable in the United Arab Emirates and up slightly in Kuwait.

Nigeria’s output has increased slightly as Royal Dutch Shell’s venture finished repairs to a damaged Nigerian oil pipeline, part of the Bonny production stream.

Iraq, expected to provide one of the world’s most significant boosts in supply in 2012, cranked out more exports from the south, offsetting reduced supplies from the north.

Among the countries with lower output were Angola, Venezuela and Iran. In Angola, scheduled exports were slightly lower with the Mondo and Hungo streams exporting fewer cargoes.

Venezuela stopped exports from one of its oil upgraders after a tanker collided with a floating monobuoy platform at the Petroanzoategui site, a maritime source said. Venezuela’s state oil company PDVSA denied exports had been affected.

Iran’s output fell slightly, a trend sources in the survey believe is more a result of long-term decline than the recent increase in tensions between Tehran and the West.

The European Union has raised pressure on Iran over its nuclear programme by banning Iranian oil from July 1. Tehran has said it may cut off supplies to some unspecified countries. (By Alex Lawler; Editing by James Jukwey) *image from neftegaz.ru



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