OPEC to Cut Exports on Declining Fuel Demand, Oil Movements Says

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will ship less crude this month because of declining demand for winter fuels and as refineries halt for maintenance, according to tanker-tracker Oil Movements.

Loadings will slip to 23.88 million barrels a day in the four weeks to March 12, down 1.3 percent from 24.19 million a day in the equivalent period to Feb. 12, the tanker-tracker said today in a report. The data exclude Angola and Ecuador.

“We are moving into a quarter of lower consumption” and refinery maintenance, Roy Mason, the founder of Oil Movements, said by phone from Halifax, England. Falling loadings at this time of year are “quite normal,” he said.

Oil climbed to the highest in 30 months in London as Libya’s violent uprising reduced supplies from Africa’s third-biggest producer. Brent futures for April settlement rose to $119.79 today, the highest since Aug. 21, 2008.

Saudi Arabia and other OPEC nations including those in West Africa are willing and able to replace any lost Libyan oil as soon as companies ask for it, including crude of the same quality, a Saudi Arabian oil official said today.

If Libya production is offline for a sustained period, and Saudi Arabia is showing a willingness to make it up, “that will mean more Middle East oil coming out,” Mason said.

In the four weeks to March 12 exports from Middle Eastern producers, including non-OPEC members Oman and Yemen, will fall by 1.7 percent to 17.81 million barrels a day, Oil Movements’ data show.

A total of 470.66 million barrels of crude will be on board tankers in the month to March 12, down 4.5 percent from the Feb. 12 figure of 492.73 million, according to Oil Movements, which calculates shipments by keeping a tally of tanker-rental agreements. Its figures exclude supplies held on board ships used as floating storage.

OPEC’s members are Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Venezuela. Iraq is exempt from the quota system.

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