OPEC Crude Output Climbs as Iran Pumps Most Oil Since 2012

Updated on
  • 13-member group boosted output by 64,000 barrels a day
  • Iranian production rose a third month after sanctions lifted

OPEC crude production rose in March as Iranian output climbed to the highest level in almost four years.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries increased production by 64,000 barrels to 33.09 million a day last month, according to a Bloomberg survey of oil companies, producers and analysts. 

The group set aside its output target of 30 million barrels a day at its Dec. 4 meeting in Vienna. Saudi Arabia, Russia, Venezuela and Qatar tentatively agreed on Feb. 16 to cap production at January levels. They’ll meet with other countries, both in and out of OPEC, in Doha on April 17.

"Talk is cheap," said Michael Lynch, president of Strategic Energy & Economic Research in Winchester, Massachusetts. "It’s hard to be really bullish about the oil market when production keeps going up. The OPEC output totals are a little reminder that we’re still in the midst of a massive glut."

West Texas Intermediate oil for May delivery rose 2 cents to close at $38.34 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Market Share

Iranian output rose by 100,000 barrels a day to 3.2 million, the most since May 2012. Sanctions against the nation, which were strengthened in July 2012, were lifted in January. The Islamic republic is seeking to regain market share after sanctions were removed upon completion of an agreement limiting its nuclear program

Iraqi production rose by 150,000 barrels a day to 4.35 million in March, according to the survey. OPEC’s second-biggest producer pumped 4.51 million barrels a day in January, the highest level in monthly data compiled by Bloomberg going back to 1989.

Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s top producer, trimmed output by 10,000 barrels a day to 10.19 million, in anticipation of a deal with Russia and other producers to freeze output. The Saudis are keeping output almost flat at January levels.

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