OPEC to Cut Exports as Refinery Demand Slows, Oil Movements Says

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will cut crude exports this month to the lowest level since November as refinery demand slows in Europe and North America, according to tanker-tracker Oil Movements.

OPEC, responsible for 40 percent of global oil supplies, will decrease shipments by 1.1 million barrels a day, or 4.6 percent, to 23.6 million a day in the four weeks to March 29, Oil Movements said in an e-mailed note. The figures exclude two of OPEC’s 12 members, Angola and Ecuador. Sailings were last this low in the four weeks to Nov. 16, when an extended maintenance period caused a fall in refinery demand, according to the consultant.

“There is a spring low point for refinery demand sometime in April” in Europe and North America, Oil Movements founder Roy Mason, said by phone from Halifax, England. “Demand is going down and sailings respond to that.”

Global oil consumption typically ebbs at the end of the first quarter as demand for heating fuel tapers off and refiners start to perform routine overhauls. Brent crude slipped 1.2 percent this month, trading at $107.70 a barrel on the ICE Futures Europe exchange as of 3:50 p.m. London time.

Middle Eastern exports will average 17.23 million barrels a day in the four weeks to March 29, compared with 18.23 million a day in the period to March 1, Oil Movements said. These figures include non-OPEC nations Oman and Yemen.

Crude on board tankers will drop by 2.8 percent to 482.21 million barrels in the four weeks to March 29, from 496.34 million in the previous period, data from Oil Movements show. The researcher calculates volumes by tallying tanker bookings and excludes crude held on vessels for storage.

OPEC’s members are Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Venezuela. The group will next meet on June 11 at its headquarters in Vienna.

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