Platts: OPEC's Oil Output Rises by 150,000 B/D from Dec.

Crude oil production from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) continued its upward march in January with overall volumes rising by 150,000 barrels per day (b/d) to 29.25 million from 29.1 million b/d in December, according to a Platts survey of OPEC and oil industry officials and analysts just released.

Production from the 11 members bound by quotas (OPEC-11) also rose by 150,000 b/d, to 26.76 million b/d in January from 26.61 million b/d the previous month, leaving the OPEC-11 overproducing their 24.845 million b/d target by 1.915 million b/d, the survey showed.

Algeria, Angola, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates showed increases ranging from 10,000 b/d and 80,000 b/d. Venezuelan production dipped by 10,000 b/d to 2.21 million b/d.

Volumes from Iraq, which does not participate in OPEC's quota system, were largely unchanged around 2.49 million b/d.

"The way things are shaping up, OPEC's March meeting appears aimed at yet another rollover of official quotas,” said John Kingston, Platts Global Director of News and Oil. "Last week, secretary general Abdalla el-Badri said if conditions around the time of the March 17 meeting are the same as they are now, ministers will be reluctant to adjust the current output agreement. This means that the focus will be on compliance. But as these estimates show, actual production has been steadily increasing and compliance diminishing," Kingston added.

A communiqué released after OPEC's December 17 meeting in Angola reaffirmed the commitment of member countries to their individual -- and yet to be published officially -- quota levels. But the latest estimates for OPEC-11 supply show a further dip in compliance with the current output pact to 54.4% from 58% in December.

Compliance with the 4.2 million b/d of cuts agreed in late 2008 peaked at close to 82% in March last year but has been declining since last April alongside a broad firming of oil prices.

Earlier Wednesday, OPEC raised its estimate of expected demand for its crude this year by 160,000 b/d to 28.75 million b/d.

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