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OPEC Supply Falls to Six-Month Low on Libya, Oil Movements Says

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will cut oil shipments to their lowest level since October as civil war halts exports from Libya, according to tanker-tracker Oil Movements.

Shipments will fall to 23.03 million barrels a day in the four weeks to April 9, down 1.8 percent from 23.46 million in the period to March 12, the consultant said in a report today. The data exclude Ecuador and Angola. Exports from West Africa to Europe and the U.S. will jump as refiners seek to replace disrupted Libyan shipments, the company said.

“It’s a precipitous drop,” Oil Movements founder Roy Mason said by phone from Halifax, England. “Market tightness will get worse through the spring as refiners are coming out of maintenance now and their capacity is going up.”

Libyan oil output has slumped as a conflict between its government and insurgents forced companies including Total SA and ConocoPhillips to suspend operations and evacuate staff. Crude exports from the country may be halted for many months, the International Energy Agency said on March 15.

This week’s data probably reflects the full extent of losses in Libya, Mason said.

Shipments from Middle Eastern producers, including those from non-OPEC members Oman and Yemen, will increase 1.5 percent to 17.72 million barrels in the four weeks to April 9 as Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations fulfill a pledge to replace lost Libyan output, Oil Movements said.

Exports of West African oil, more similar in quality than Gulf supplies to Libyan crude, going to refiners in Europe and the U.S. will be up 30 percent at 2.6 million barrels a day compared with the four weeks to Feb. 19, Mason said. West African volumes sent to Asia will drop by an equivalent amount.

A total of 477.9 million barrels of crude will be on board tankers in the four weeks to April 9, up 1.6 percent from the March 12 figure of 470.2 million, according to Oil Movements.

Oil Movements calculates shipments by keeping a tally of tanker-rental agreements. Its figures exclude crude 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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