OPEC Output Up 150,000 Barrels Per Day in July, According to Platts

OPEC crude production rose by 150,000 barrels per day in July to average 30.25 million barrels per day (mil b/d) over the month, a Platts survey of OPEC and oil industry officials showed August 9. Iraq, whose exports were boosted by some liftings from Ceyhan, accounted for most of the increase, with production rising to 1.96-mil b/d in July from 1.85-mil b/d in June.

Excluding Iraq, which does not participate in OPEC's output distribution system, the ten members with quotas pumped an average 28.29-mil b/d, up a net 40,000 b/d from June's 28.25-mil b/d.

Increases totalling 170,000 b/d--110,000 b/d from Iraq, 10,000 b/d each from Algeria and Iran, and 20,000 b/d each from Libya and the UAE -- were partially offset by output declines totalling 20,000 b/d in Indonesia and Venezuela.

Saudi Arabia, the only OPEC member with any significant volume of surplus capacity, maintained its production at 9.5-mil b/d and has already signalled that it will keep output at this level through August.

"Crude prices are now holding well above $60 and it is not even autumn let alone winter," said John Kingston, global director of oil at Platts. "What, if anything, does OPEC have up its sleeve? Rank-and-file members are coming up with a few extra barrels here and there, so if OPEC is going to pump any sizeable volume of extra oil, it is going to have to come from Saudi Arabia."

Recent analyses of OPEC production show only small volume increases from rank-and-file members alongside decreasing production from Indonesia and Venezuela.

It is also worth noting that while OPEC has encouraged its members to overproduce their quotas, three countries are currently producing within their official limits.

Indonesia's capacity is declining and has yet to reap any benefit from three new fields on which Jakarta has been pinning its hopes of a production boost. Venezuelan production has failed to recover from the two-month oil strike that crippled the country's oil sector in the winter of 2002-2003. These two countries have been under-producing their quotas by several hundred thousand barrels a day each for some time but have continued to receive quota increases based on their theoretical share of OPEC output.

Iran, OPEC's second biggest producer behind Saudi Arabia, now appears to have pushed its production close to its limit, believed by some analysts to be little more than 4-mil b/d for the time being. Tehran's quota is 4.11-mil b/d.

Although OPEC insists that crude markets are adequately supplied and that refining capacity constraints are one of the main problems facing the oil industry, record-high prices of more than $64/bbl for US light crude futures and more than $63/bbl for North Sea Brent look set to keep up the pressure on the oil cartel to pump as much as it can.

Saudi Arabia says it is ready to produce its full 11-mil b/d of crude production capacity if customers ask for extra oil beyond the 9.5-mil b/d the kingdom is currently producing, but insists that that there is no demand for the additional barrels, the bulk of which are heavy and sour.

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

    Country       July 05  June 05  May 05   Apr 05   Mar 05   Feb 05   July 1
    Algeria        1.340    1.330    1.310    1.300    1.300    1.290    0.894
    Indonesia      0.940    0.950    0.950    0.950    0.950    0.960    1.451
    Iran           4.000    3.990    3.980    3.950    3.980    3.930    4.110
    Iraq           1.960    1.850    1.820    1.860    1.850    1.850      N/A
    Kuwait         2.550    2.550    2.550    2.500    2.450    2.430    2.247
    Libya          1.650    1.630    1.630    1.620    1.620    1.610    1.500
    Nigeria        2.450    2.450    2.400    2.370    2.350    2.350    2.306
    Qatar          0.780    0.780    0.780    0.780    0.780    0.780    0.726
    Saudi Arabia   9.500    9.500    9.550    9.500    9.400    9.250    9.099
    UAE            2.450    2.430    2.400    2.450    2.450    2.450    2.444
    Venezuela      2.630    2.640    2.650    2.680    2.700    2.680    3.223
    Total         30.250   30.100   30.020   29.960   29.830   29.580      N/A
    OPEC 10       28.290   28.250   28.200   28.100   27.980   27.730   28.000