Platts Says OPEC Output up 750,000 BPD

OPEC's total crude production rose to 27.78-mil b/d in March from 27.03-mil b/d in February, an increase of 750,000 b/d, a Platts survey of OPEC and oil industry officials showed April 7.

The total includes Iraqi production at 1.44-mil b/d. Platts is the energy information, research, consulting and media and marketing services unit of The McGraw-Hill Companies.

Excluding Iraqi production, however, the ten members with quotas produced an average 26.34-mil b/d in March, 1.82-mil b/d more than their February average of 24.52-mil b/d and 1.84-mil b/d more than their official 24.52-mil b/d ceiling, the survey showed.

OPEC has increased production by some 3-mil b/d since January, although more than 1.6-mil b/d of this is accounted for by Venezuela's recovery from a low of 650,000 b/d in January to 2.28-mil b/d in March.

Apart from Venezuela, the only other country to have increased output significantly is Saudi Arabia, which pumped an average 9.46-mil b/d in March, up 990,000 b/d since January. But Saudi Arabia had already started increasing output in December, when the Venezuelan oil strike began. Since December, Riyadh has increased production by 1.44-mil b/d. Its OPEC quota is 7.963-mil b/d.

The latest OPEC production survey from Platts coincided with the news that OPEC ministers are to meet in Vienna April 24 to discuss how to respond to the slide in oil prices over the past few weeks.

Even as the cartel was pumping extra oil to try to contain surging oil prices ahead of the U.S.-led war on Iraq, its top officials were warning of a possible oil price collapse in the second quarter when oil demand drops.

"OPEC ministers must be getting worried when they see how oil prices have fallen back in just a few weeks," said Peter Zipf, editor-in-chief of Platts Oilgram News. "They will presumably be thinking about cutting production. The question is, who is going to cut back and how?"

Some OPEC ministers and senior delegates have suggested that even if Iraqi oil were to stay off the market for several months, the drop in demand, combined with rising Venezuelan production, would more than compensate for the lost Iraqi barrels.

Iraqi production, meanwhile, plunged by 1.07-mil b/d in March from February's 2.51-mil b/d average.

Political unrest in the oil-producing Niger Delta reduced Nigerian production by an average 250,000 b/d in March to 1.93-mil b/d.

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

Country Mar 03 Feb 03 Jan 03 Jan 03
Feb 03
Algeria 1.110 1.050 1.020 0.735 0.782
Indonesia 1.040 1.080 1.080 1.192 1.270
Iran 3.760 3.690 3.620 3.377 3.597
Iraq 1.440 2.510 2.500 N/A N/A
Kuwait 2.300 2.000 2.000 1.845 1.966
Libya 1.410 1.400 1.390 1.232 1.312
Nigeria 1.930 2.180 2.150 1.894 2.018
Qatar 0.760 0.750 0.730 0.596 0.635
Saudi Arabia 9.460 8.740 8.470 7.476 7.963
UAE 2.290 2.140 2.100 2.007 2.138
Venezuela 2.280 1.490 0.650 2.647 2.819
Total 27.780 27.030 25.710 N/A N/A
Excluding Iraq
26.340 24.520 23.210 23.000 24.500