Platts survey: OPEC pumps 30.93 mm barrels of crude oil per day in April

May 08, 2015 12:00 AM

Oil production from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) totaled 30.93 million barrels per day (b/d) in April, up 210,000 b/d from March, as several member countries boosted production, according to the latest Platts survey of OPEC and oil industry officials and analysts.

“OPEC production has climbed within a whisker of 31 million b/d, well above the group’s current ceiling,” said Margaret McQuaile, senior correspondent for Platts, a leading global provider of energy and commodities information. “However, given the emphasis on preserving market share and barring some kind of pact with key non-OPEC producers, it seems unlikely that we will see any output policy change at the June 5 meeting.  But, with the potential for additional barrels from Iran in the event of sanctions being lifted, the second half of the year could be a lot more eventful.”

The April total, which is the highest since November 2012, leaves the group’s output nearly 1 million-b/d above the 30 million b/d ceiling that has been in place since the beginning of 2012 and which Saudi Arabia successfully argued in November should be maintained, despite plunging oil prices and misgivings among several member countries.

The biggest single increase came from OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia, which increased output by 100,000 b/d to 10.1 million b/d in April. Smaller increases came from Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya and Nigeria.

Angolan output dropped by 70,000 b/d month on month to 1.68 million b/d, largely due to problems at BP’s Plutonio field. Supply of another Angolan grade, Saturno, has also been affected by power outages in recent months.

Libyan production in April rose to 520,000 b/d from 480,000 b/d the previous month. Output climbed as high as 600,000 b/d early in the month as production ramped up from eastern fields, but technical problems at fields operated by the state-owned Sirte Oil Company and the closure of the Elephant (El Feel) field in southwestern Libya saw production slide back below 500,000 b/d.

In late April, crude supplies to the eastern Libyan port of Zueitina were suspended after protesters forced the closure of the pipeline feeding the terminal.

Iraqi production was estimated at 3.6 million b/d, up 70,000 b/d from March, increased exports from Ceyhan in Turkey compensating for a drop in those from the south.

OPEC ministers will review the current ceiling at talks in Vienna on June 5, but there are no indications that the oil producer club is planning any adjustments to current output policy.

In mid-April, Iranian oil minister Bijan Zanganeh said OPEC should cut 5% of its current output to balance world oil markets and prepare for increased flows of Iranian oil if ongoing talks between Tehran and six world powers result in a nuclear deal by a June 30 deadline and sanctions being lifted.

OPEC policy depends to a large extent on how Saudi Arabia, its most powerful member with production capacity of 12.5 million b/d, views the market. Saudi oil minister Ali Naimi said last month that the kingdom was willing to help restore stability to world oil markets, but only if major non-OPEC producers were also ready to participate.

OPEC’s Vienna secretariat will release its latest monthly forecasts of supply and demand next week. In April, it forecast that demand for crude produced by its 12 members, plus movements in and out of stocks, would average 29.27 million b/d this year. In the third and fourth quarters, however, OPEC sees demand for its crude averaging 30.29 million b/d and 30.71 million b/d, up from 27.78 million b/d and 28.25 million b/d in the first and second.

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