OPEC Output Up 240,000 Barrels Per Day in February, According to Platts

A recovery in Iraqi volumes boosted OPEC production by 240,000 barrels per day (b/d) to 29.92 million b/d in February from 29.68 million b/d in January, a Platts survey of OPEC and oil industry officials showed March.

Excluding Iraq, however, output from the ten members with quotas dipped by 20,000 b/d to 28.13 million b/d over the month.

Production increases from four countries-Iraq, Libya, Saudi Arabia and the UAE-totaling 310,000 b/d were partially offset by reductions of 40,000 b/d and 30,000 b/d from Iran and Nigeria.

The biggest single increase came from Iraq, whose overall supply rose to 1.79 million b/d from 1.53 million b/d in January.

"Iraq seems to be the new swing producer in OPEC, but this is not necessarily a good thing for consumers," said John Kingston, global director of oil at Platts. "While Iraq's geological upside is enormous, the infrastructure of the industry remains threadbare, and it is obviously an easy target for the insurgency. At this point, it's difficult to imagine a jump of several hundred thousand barrels per day of output, but it's not that difficult to imagine a decline of that magnitude."

Continuing ethnic unrest in the Niger Delta continued to take its toll on Nigerian supply, although rising output from the deepwater Bonga field helped to offset production losses.

The latest estimates show the OPEC-10 producing just 130,000 b/d in excess of their 28 million b/d output ceiling, which the group agreed to maintain at talks in Vienna last week. A glance at individual production levels, however, shows that while several members are producing comfortably above their quotas, Indonesia, Iran and Venezuela are under-producing their official limits to the combined tune of around 1.4 million b/d.

Indonesia, whose crude production is in decline, and Venezuela, whose oil industry has not recovered fully after the oil workers' strike in the winter of 2002-2003, have been under-producing for some time.

Iran, with a high depletion rate in its producing fields and experiencing great difficultly in selling Soroush/Nowrouz crude, has not managed to produce its 4.11 million b/d quota since it came into effect in July 2005.

    Country-by-country breakdown of production with figures in millions of

    Country            Feb 06    Jan 06    Dec 05   Nov 05    Oct 05     Quota
    Algeria             1.370     1.370     1.370    1.370     1.360     0.894
    Indonesia           0.920     0.920     0.930    0.930     0.930     1.451
    Iran                3.860     3.900     3.930    3.950     3.950     4.110
    Iraq                1.790     1.530     1.550    1.700     1.800       N/A
    Kuwait              2.540     2.540     2.540    2.550     2.550     2.247
    Libya               1.670     1.660     1.660    1.660     1.650     1.500
    Nigeria             2.370     2.400     2.420    2.450     2.450     2.306
    Qatar               0.800     0.800     0.800    0.800     0.800     0.726
    Saudi Arabia        9.500     9.480     9.500    9.550     9.500     9.099
    UAE                 2.500     2.480     2.500    2.490     2.480     2.444
    Venezuela           2.600     2.600     2.600    2.600     2.600     3.223
    Total              29.920    29.680    29.800   30.050    30.070       N/A
    OPEC 10 (excluding
     Iraq)             28.130    28.150    28.250   28.350    28.270    28.000

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