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OPEC to Cut Shipments as Asian Demand Ebbs, Oil Movements Says

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will reduce shipments through to early February as late winter demand fails to materialize in Asia, according to tanker tracker Oil Movements.

The group that supplies about 40 percent of the world’s oil will export 23.7 million barrels a day in the four weeks to Feb. 9, down 150,000 barrels, or 0.6 percent, from the previous period, the researcher said today in an e-mailed report. Shipments normally climb at this time of the year with the last phase in winter demand in the northern hemisphere, according to the consultant. The figures exclude Angola and Ecuador.

“The second winter peak isn’t happening,” Roy Mason, the company’s founder, said by phone from Halifax, England. “The tanker market is moribund. You wouldn’t normally expect it to be soaring, but it should be going up not down as it’s still winter in the Far East.”

Japan’s oil purchases dropped 0.8 percent in December from a year earlier to 19.7 million kiloliters, according to preliminary data from the Ministry of Finance. OPEC production dropped to the lowest level in 14 months in December because of a 4 percent supply cut by Saudi Arabia, data from the group’s monthly report on Jan. 16 showed. Brent traded today at about $113 a barrel on the ICE Futures Europe exchange in London.

Middle East shipments will decrease 0.7 percent to 17.4 million barrels a day in the period, compared with 17.52 million in the four weeks to Jan. 12, according to Oil Movements. That figure includes non-OPEC members Oman and Yemen.

Crude on board tankers will average 467.6 million barrels, down 1.5 percent on the previous period, the data show. Oil Movements calculates the volumes by tallying tanker bookings. Its figures exclude crude held on vessels for storage.

OPEC comprises Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Venezuela. The organization is next scheduled to meet in May.

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