OPEC to Cut Exports on Refinery Maintenance, Oil Movements Says

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will cut exports through to March 19 as refiners idle units while conducting seasonal maintenance, according to tanker-tracker Oil Movements.

The drop is unrelated to any disruption in supplies from Libya, the Halifax, England-based company said. Loadings will slip to 23.63 million barrels a day in the four weeks to March 19, down 1.1 percent from 23.9 million a day in the equivalent period to Feb. 19, the company said today in a report. The data exclude Angola and Ecuador.

“Demand declines at this point in the year because of maintenance,” Roy Mason, the founder of Oil Movements, said in a telephone interview. Shipments will likely fall until mid-April, he said.

Global oil consumption will shrink by 0.3 percent to 88.4 million barrels a day in the second quarter as demand for winter fuels fades, according to the International Energy Agency. As much as 1 million of Libya’s 1.6 million barrels of daily production may have been halted as a result of the uprising against Muammar Qaddafi, the agency said.

Any reduction in Libyan exports will appear in next week’s data, once canceled tanker bookings are reported, Mason said.

Oil climbed to the highest in in 2 1/2 years in London on Feb. 24 as Libya’s violent uprising reduced supplies from Africa’s third-biggest producer. Brent futures for April settlement were at $114.84 a barrel today.

In the four weeks to March 19 exports from Middle Eastern producers, including non-OPEC members Oman and Yemen, will fall by 1.7 percent to 17.43 million barrels a day, Oil Movements’ data show.

A total of 484.99 million barrels of crude will be on board tankers in the month to March 19, down 0.8 percent from the Feb. 19 figure of 488.7 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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