Monday, March 1, 2010

OPEC Oil Output Reaches 14-Month High, Survey Shows

Feb. 26 (Bloomberg) -- The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries increased crude-oil production to a 14-month high in February, led by a Saudi Arabian gain, a Bloomberg News survey showed.

Output rose 125,000 barrels a day, or 0.4 percent, to an average 29.17 million barrels a day, the highest level since December 2008, according to the survey of oil companies, producers and analysts. The January production total was revised 45,000 barrels a day higher.

OPEC cut its production quotas by 4.2 million barrels to 24.845 million barrels a day beginning in January 2009 as fuel demand tumbled during the worst global recession since World War II. The group left the targets unchanged at a Dec. 22 meeting in Luanda, Angola. Ministers are next scheduled to gather on March 17 in Vienna.

“At $70 there is really no incentive for OPEC to cut production,” said Michael Lynch, president of Strategic Energy & Economic Research in Winchester, Massachusetts. “OPEC should be worried because rising production and economic uncertainty isn’t the recipe for a bull market.”

Oil futures have more than doubled to $79.66 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange from a four-year low of $32.40 touched in December 2008, which caused OPEC to curb output.

Saudi Output

Saudi Arabia, the group’s biggest producer, boosted output by 100,000 barrels to 8.25 million barrels a day, the highest level since December 2008. It was the largest increase of any member. The kingdom exceeded its quota by 199,000 barrels a day.

The 11 countries with quotas, all except Iraq, pumped 26.785 million barrels a day, 1.94 million above their target. Compliance with output quotas slid to 54 percent in February from 57 percent in January. All members exceeded their production limits.

Angola increased production by 75,000 barrels to 1.945 million barrels a day last month, the most since at least January 2007, when Bloomberg News data on the country’s output began. Angola pumped 428,000 barrels a day above its target.

Nigeria’s output fell 85,000 barrels a day to an average 1.94 million, the biggest decline of any member, as militants renewed attacks on oil installations. The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, the main armed group in the region, said on Jan. 30 it called off a three-month “indefinite cease-fire” and would resume attacks on the oil industry.

Iraqi output slipped 20,000 barrels a day to 2.385 million, the second-biggest decrease in OPEC.

Production in Iran, OPEC’s second-biggest producer, declined 10,000 barrels a day to 3.795 million. The country is the biggest overproducer in the group, exceeding its quota by 459,000 barrels a day.