OPEC's September Output Falls 334,000 B/D

Dow Jones Newswires

DUBAI (Dow Jones Newswires), October 6, 2008

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries lowered crude oil production in September, a survey by Dow Jones Newswires showed Monday, amid increasing fears that world oil demand will slow as global economies suffer from the U.S. financial crisis.

The survey estimates daily production in September by all 13 of the group's members fell 1.03%, or 334,000 barrels a day, from the previous month to 32.215 million barrels a day.

The output drop is the biggest month-on-month decline by the OPEC-13 so far this year, the survey shows.

OPEC produces around 40% of the 87 million barrels of crude oil consumed globally each day.

Output by the group's 12 members with production quotas also fell, with countries pumping 224,000 barrels a day, or 0.74% less in September versus August at 30.025 million barrels a day, the survey estimates. The drop is the first by the OPEC-12 since April.

Iraq, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and Iran led the production decline, according to the survey, which is based on input from oil traders, analysts and industry sources.

Despite the decline, the OPEC-12 in September still produced about 352,000 barrels a day above the group's official production target of 29.67 million barrels, the survey shows.

The decline in overall OPEC output comes as the 13-nation group is trying to stem a decline of more than $55 a barrel in oil prices since July, driven by concerns that oil demand will fall as U.S. and European economies are weakening in the wake of America's financial system crisis.

New York Mercantile Exchange light, sweet crude for November delivery was down $3.94 at $89.94 a barrel at 1237 GMT Monday, down from a record high of above $147 a barrel in July.

Iran's Oil Minister Gholam Hossein Nozari warned at the weekend that the recent oil price fluctuations aren't tolerable and a price of $100 a barrel is too low as it will slow investments in projects aimed at boosting output, the Oil Ministry's official Shana Web site reported Saturday.

OPEC will closely watch fluctuating crude oil prices and decide during the group's next meeting in Algeria in December whether to take any action, Nozari said, Shana reported.

 Output Drop
Iraq, the only OPEC member outside the quota system, saw production drop by about 110,000 barrels a day to 2.19 million barrels a day in September, according to the survey, due to technical problems at oil facilities in the south and production problems in the north.

Ongoing militant attacks on oil installations in Nigeria led to a loss of as much as 100,000 barrels a day of production to a daily rate of 1.8 million barrels a day, the survey shows.

The drop followed "a resurgence in violence by Nigerian militants," said Richard Gorry of Vienna-based JBC Energy.

OPEC's top producer, Saudi Arabia, lowered output by about 75,000 barrels a day to 9.425 million barrels a day in September, the lowest level since May, the survey shows.

"OPEC members met in Vienna at the beginning of September and agreed to adhere more strictly to their production allocations. In line with this, Saudi Arabia eased back its production," Gorry said.

Production in Iran, OPEC's number two producer, also declined, falling 50,000 barrels a day to 4 million barrels a day, the survey estimates.

Libya's production rose by 60,000 barrels a day to a daily rate of 1.71 million, the survey estimates, after the completion of maintenance works at a pipeline linking the Waha and Defa oil fields.

Copyright (c) 2008 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.