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OPEC November Crude Output Falls to Two-Year Low in Survey

Nov. 29 (Bloomberg) -- OPEC crude production dropped to a two-year low in November, led by declines in Saudi Arabian and Nigerian output, a Bloomberg survey showed.

Output by the 12-member Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries decreased 245,000 barrels to an average 30.007 million barrels a day this month from 30.252 million in October, the survey of oil companies, producers and analysts showed. The October total was revised lower by 369,000 barrels a day because of changes to the Saudi and Libyan estimates.

Brent crude for January settlement fell $1.17, or 1.1 percent, to end the session at $109.69 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. Brent is the benchmark grade for more than half the world’s oil. West Texas Intermediate oil for January delivery rose 42 cents, or 0.5 percent, to settle at $92.72 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent climbed 0.8 percent this month while WTI dropped 3.8 percent.

Saudi Arabian crude output declined 150,000 barrels a day to 9.65 million. The desert kingdom pumped 10 million barrels a day in September, the most in monthly data going back to 1989. The October estimate was reduced by 200,000 barrels a day. Demand on the Arabian Peninsula peaks in the summer months when oil is burned for electricity to power air conditioners.

“Saudi production may be slightly lower because of domestic demand,” said Julius Walker, global energy markets strategist at UBS Securities LLC in New York. “The Saudis are trying to balance markets at the moment.”

Nigerian Output

Nigeria’s production dropped 100,000 barrels a day to 1.89 million in November, the lowest level since May. Production is often disrupted by unrest and theft in the Niger River delta, the country’s main oil-producing region.

Output in Africa’s biggest crude producer dropped to 1.89 million barrels a day in the third quarter, down 2.1 percent from 1.93 million in the previous three months because of “incessant crude oil theft,” the country’s central bank said.

Libyan output slipped 40,000 barrels a day to 210,000 in November, the lowest level since September 2011. Two years after the war that swept the late Muammar Qaddafi from power, Libyan government efforts to revive the oil industry are being stymied by feuding militias and protests.

“Libya is the worrying one where production falls lower and lower,” Walker said. “It looked like production may have hit bottom in September and October but that’s apparently not the case. There’s not much sign of recovery in the near term.”

Libya’s Clashes

The North African country’s efforts to bring more oil online was complicated further by clashes this week between the army and Islamists in the eastern region, which holds more than 60 percent of Libya’s crude-production capacity.

The fighting in Benghazi prompted another call by Prime Minister Ali Zaidan for militias to hand over weapons, leave cities and reopen ports. Speaking yesterday on state television, he said Libya may be forced to borrow should production remain at current levels, which is about 15 percent of the country’s 1.6 million barrel-a-day capacity.

Crude production in the United Arab Emirates also declined by 40,000 barrels a day this month as cooler temperatures reduced local fuel demand. The UAE pumped 2.76 million barrels a day in November, the least since April.

Iranian production increased 50,000 barrels a day to 2.645 million in November, the highest level since March, according to the survey. It was the biggest November gain. Iran, the group’s second-biggest producer in June 2012, is now in sixth place. Sanctions aimed at stopping the Islamic republic’s nuclear program have hindered its ability to export crude oil.

OPEC ministers left their official production target at 30 million barrels a day at their most recent meeting on May 31. They will keep their output limit unchanged when they gather on Dec. 4 in Vienna, according to 22 of 24 analysts and traders polled this week by Bloomberg. Two respondents said the organization will agree to a cut next week.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mark Shenk in New York at mshenk1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dan Stets at dstets@bloomberg.net

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