OPEC Pushes Output Above 30 Million Barrels Per Day in Sept.

OPEC crude production climbed to 30.19 million barrels per day (mil b/d) in September, up 440,000 b/d from August's 29.75-mil b/d, as Iraqi production and exports recovered from previous spates of sabotage attacks, a Platts survey of OPEC and oil industry officials showed October 6. Iraq, whose overall output rose to 2.1-mil b/d from 1.78-mil b/d in August, accounted for 320,000 b/d of the additional volume.

Excluding Iraq, the ten members with crude production quotas pumped an average 28.09-mil b/d in September, 120,000 b/d higher than August's 27.97-mil b/d. OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia boosted output by 80,000 b/d to 9.58-mil b/d, the survey showed, while the UAE pushed out an additional 50,000 b/d to average 2.5-mil b/d. Qatar managed an extra 10,000 b/d to produce an average 800,000 b/d. Nigeria, beset by civil unrest in the Niger Delta, lost an average 20,000 b/d of production, according to the survey, which estimated the country's September output at 2.38-mil b/d.

"These numbers certainly support OPEC's contention that it is supplying the market with an adequate amount of oil," said John Kingston, director of oil at Platts. "Particularly good news for consumers is the fact that Iraqi output, despite all the turmoil there, has pushed above the 2-million b/d level. Yet the price continues to rise, and there is little sign of this increased oil output making its way into inventories, which should be building given these output levels. That fact provides significant concern as we head into the fourth quarter."

Six OPEC members -- Algeria, Indonesia, Iran, Kuwait, Libya and Venezuela -- maintained output at August levels.

Earlier October 6, Qatari oil minister Abdullah al-Attiyah said OPEC had boosted its output to more than 30-mil b/d and that members would continue to pump at maximum capacity in hopes of cooling down prices, which surged to a new record high of $51.85/bbl later in the day in New York.

Saudi Arabia is currently the only member with any significant volume of spare capacity. When prices jumped above $50/bbl last week, oil minister Ali Naimi issued a written statement saying Saudi Arabia would boost its capacity from the current 10.5-mil b/d to 11-mil b/d "as soon as possible."

Kuwait also has plans to boost capacity, oil minister Sheikh Ahmad Fahed al-Sabah announcing Monday that his country would be ready to pump an additional 200,000 b/d, if needed, from next week with the reopening of a crude gathering center destroyed in an explosion in 2001. But senior Kuwaiti oil sources, speaking the same day, said they believed the reopening of the GC-15 gathering center would be delayed until mid-December or early January.

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

    Country      Sept 04   Aug 04  July 04 June 04   May 04  Quota-   Quota-
                                                              Jul 1    Aug 1
    Algeria        1.260    1.260    1.250   1.200    1.170   0.814    0.830
    Indonesia      0.950    0.950    0.960   0.970    0.970   1.322    1.347
    Iran           3.980    3.980    3.980   3.960    3.920   3.744    3.817
    Iraq           2.100    1.780    1.950   1.700    1.900     N/A      N/A
    Kuwait         2.380    2.380    2.350   2.350    2.300   2.046    2.087
    Libya          1.610    1.610    1.590   1.540    1.470   1.365    1.392
    Nigeria        2.380    2.400    2.400   2.400    2.350   2.101    2.142
    Qatar          0.800    0.790    0.780   0.780    0.760   0.661    0.674
    Saudi Arabia   9.580    9.500    9.400   9.100    8.600   8.288    8.450
    UAE            2.500    2.450    2.390   2.380    2.260   2.225    2.269
    Venezuela      2.650    2.650    2.620   2.560    2.560   2.934    2.992
    Total         30.190   29.750   29.670  28.940   28.260     N/A      N/A
    OPEC 10
    Iraq)         28.090   27.970   27.720  27.240   26.360  25.500   26.000