OPEC Oil Output Near 2 1/2-Year High as Saudis Show No Letup

(Bloomberg) -- OPEC oil production was little changed in April near the highest level since November 2012 as Saudi Arabia pumped 10 million barrels a day.

Production by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries slipped 1,000 barrels to 31.295 million a day this month, according to a Bloomberg survey of oil companies, producers and analysts. Last month’s total was revised 267,000 barrels higher to 31.296 million a day, mostly because of a change to the Saudi estimate.

Prices tumbled the first quarter of this year as U.S. output surged to the highest level in more than four decades and OPEC members pumped more barrels. The 12-member group left its production quota unchanged at a November meeting, prompting speculation that it would let crude slide low enough to curb shale development in the U.S.

“The high Saudi number is what sticks out,” Julius Walker, senior consultant at JBC Energy GmbH in Vienna said by phone. “The consensus view is that the Saudis are going to continue with their present policy. The market continues to be substantially oversupplied.”

Brent for June settlement rose 94 cents, or 1.4 percent, to end Thursday’s session at $66.78 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange, the highest since Dec. 9. The contract slipped to $45.19 on Jan. 13, the lowest since March 2009.

Trimmed Output

Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s top producer, trimmed output by 100,000 barrels a day to 10 million this month. March output was revised 330,000 barrels a day higher to 10.1 million. The country sold oil at a higher-than-projected rate in March as a result of the biggest discounts in at least 15 years.

The oil market is in “excellent” condition, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s deputy oil minister, said Monday. Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi stressed earlier this month that the kingdom won’t yield market share to higher-cost producers.


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