Platts: OPEC Production Up 370,000 b/d This Month

The 13 members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) pumped an average 32.24 million barrels per day (b/d) of crude oil in May, an increase of 370,000 b/d from April's 31.87 million b/d, according to a Platts survey of OPEC and oil industry officials just released.

Production from the 12 members bound by output agreements rose 260,000 b/d to 29.75 million b/d in May, from 29.49 million b/d in April, the survey showed. A sharp fall in Nigerian production was the main reason for the lower April numbers. Nigerian output, estimated at 1.86 million b/d in May, showed some recovery but was still well below pre-April levels of more than 2 million b/d.

The biggest volume increases in May came from Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Saudi production was estimated at 9.24 million b/d, up 140,000 b/d from April's 9.1 million b/d. Saudi Arabia said last month its June production would average 9.45 million b/d. Iraqi volumes, which averaged 2.38 million b/d in April, rose to 2.49 million b/d in May, an increase of 110,000 b/d. Other smaller increases came from Angola, Ecuador, Kuwait, Qatar, the UAE and Venezuela. The increases were partly offset, however, by output drops in Iran and Libya.

The survey shows the OPEC-12 exceeding their 29.673 million b/d target by 77,000 b/d. A senior OPEC delegate said Monday that OPEC ceilings and quotas had become largely irrelevant and that OPEC had a "tacit" understanding that those members capable of boosting crude production should supply as much oil as world oil markets needed.

"It's clear that with non-OPEC output continuing to sag, and world demand staying flat regardless of high prices, that any additional supply most likely must come from OPEC," said Platts Global Director of Oil John Kingston. "The International Energy Agency report released Tuesday morning says the world drew stocks in April, and that's not supposed to happen. Stocks are supposed to build in the second quarter, in anticipation of a fourth quarter stock draw. But with OPEC spare capacity down to 2 million b/d, according to the IEA, its ability to put much more oil on the market looks severely constrained."