OPEC Output Down 120,000 bpd in January

Overall crude production by oil cartel OPEC fell again in January, dropping by 120,000 barrels per day to 29.68 million barrels per day (mil b/d) from December's 29.8-mil b/d, a Platts survey of OPEC and oil industry officials showed February 13.

That figure includes Iraqi production at 1.53-mil b/d. Excluding Iraq, which does not participate in OPEC output accords, the ten members with crude production quotas pumped an average 28.15-mil b/d in January, 100,000 b/d down from December's 28.25-mil b/d and just 150,000 b/d above their 28-mil b/d ceiling.

The latest estimates show OPEC volumes at their lowest level in almost a year and mark the second consecutive month that OPEC production has been below 30-mil b/d. Platts estimates last year showed volumes averaging 29.58-mil b/d in February, 29.83-mil b/d in March and 29.96-mil b/d in April, before rising to 30.02-mil b/d in May. Overall production held above 30-mil b/d until December 2005.

There were no increases to offset the production losses seen in six countries.

"Despite marginal falls in individual production levels, OPEC is still pumping nearly flat out in the face of high prices," said John Kingston.

Iraq, whose oil industry continues to be beset by infrastructural problems and sabotage-not to mention the occasional weather-related disruptions to exports-saw volumes fall by 20,000 b/d to 1.53-mil b/d.

Nigeria's output fell further after a series of militant attacks on oil installations in the Niger Delta, although the drop was partly offset by rising deepwater offshore production from Shell's Bonga field.

UAE production edged down as a result of Murban field maintenance. Saudi volumes also dropped slightly, to 9.48-mil b/d from 9.5-mil b/d in December, while Iran's production slipped by 30,000 b/d to 3.9-mil b/d. Indonesian production declined further in January to average 920,000 b/d over the month.

High oil prices dissuaded the group from giving any serious consideration to a cut in crude output at the recent January 31 meeting in Vienna, despite previous concerns about the projected fall in demand in the second quarter. Indeed, Saudi oil minister Ali Naimi said on the sidelines of the talks that he did not think there would be a need to cut output at all this year. OPEC is next scheduled to meet March 8 in Vienna.

Country-by-country breakdown of production with figures in millions of b/d:

Country Jan 06 Dec 05 Nov 05 Oct 05 Sept 05 Quota
Algeria 1.370 1.370 1.370 1.360 1.350 0.894
Indonesia 0.920 0.930 0.930 0.930 0.930 1.451
Iran 3.900 3.930 3.950 3.950 3.950 4.110
Iraq 1.530 1.550 1.700 1.800 1.990 N/A
Kuwait 2.540 2.540 2.550 2.550 2.550 2.247
Libya 1.660 1.660 1.660 1.650 1.650 1.500
Nigeria 2.400 2.420 2.450 2.450 2.450 2.306
Qatar 0.800 0.800 0.800 0.800 0.790 0.726
Saudi Arabia 9.480 9.500 9.550 9.500 9.560 9.099
UAE 2.480 2.500 2.490 2.480 2.480 2.444
Venezuela 2.600 2.600 2.600 2.600 2.610 3.223
Total 29.680 29.800 30.050 30.070 30.310 N/A
(excluding Iraq)
28.150 28.250 28.350 28.270 28.320 28.000

Platts, a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies (NYSE: MHP), is the world leader in providing energy information. For nearly a century, Platts has helped to enable ever-changing global energy markets enhance their performance through such offerings as independent industry news and price benchmarks. From 15 offices worldwide, Platts covers the oil, natural gas, electricity, nuclear power, coal, petrochemical and metals markets.

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