OPEC Pumps 32.25 Mmbbl/d Crude Oil in Jan., Up 220,000 bbl/d

The 13 members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) pumped an average 32.25 million (m) barrels per day (b/d) of crude oil in January, or a 220,000 b/d increase from December's rate of 32.03 million b/d, a Platts survey of OPEC and oil industry officials showed February 14.

The biggest single increase came from Saudi Arabia, which boosted volumes to 9.2 million b/d in January from 9.02 million b/d in December.

The UAE boosted production to 2.59 million b/d from 2.5 million b/d in December after a field maintenance program reduced output to 2.15 million b/d in November. Other smaller increases came from Angola, Iran and Kuwait.

"OPEC ministers meeting in Vienna earlier this month opted to leave production targets unchanged, ignoring pleas from major consuming countries for more oil," said John Kingston, Platts global director of oil. "Despite this, however, January production was nearly 290,000 b/d higher than the official target. But the big part of this increase came from Saudi Arabia, which supports the view that virtually all of OPEC's spare capacity lies within one country."

Kingston says the ability to repeat these numbers in February may be tested by new politically-driven problems in Nigeria. Platts estimates that the amount of oil offline in that country has climbed a few hundred thousand barrels per day and now stands at one million b/d.

Excluding Iraq, the 12 members bound by output agreements produced an average 29.96 million b/d in January, up 230,000 b/d from December's 29.73 million b/d and 287,000 b/d in excess of their 29.673 million b/d target.

Output increases totaling 340,000 b/d were partly offset by 120,000 b/d of decreases.

Nigerian production slipped after Shell was forced to declare force majeure on crude shipments from its Forcados export terminal following a pipeline attack.

Iraqi volumes were marginally lower, despite higher exports, after fires at two refineries reduced the volume of crude used domestically. Indonesian production was also slightly lower than December levels.

OPEC's 29.673 million b/d output target incorporates allocations, agreed at a December meeting in Abu Dhabi, of 1.9 million b/d for Angola, which joined the group in January 2007, and 520,000 b/d for Ecuador, which rejoined in November after leaving in the early 1990s.

At its most recent meeting, on February 1, ministers decided to leave output targets unchanged and to review the situation on March 5.