OPEC Oil Output Surges as Iran Looks to Regain Market Share

  • 13-member group boosted output by 484,000 barrels a day
  • Iranian production rose a fourth month after sanctions lifted

OPEC crude production surged in April, led by Iran, which is seeking to regain market share after sanctions were lifted early this year.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries increased production by 484,000 barrels to 33.217 million a day in April, the most in monthly data compiled by Bloomberg going back to 1989, according to a survey of oil companies, producers and analysts.   

Negotiations between OPEC members and other producers on April 17 in Doha ended without a deal to limit output after Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations wouldn’t agree to any accord unless all members of the oil-exporter group joined, including Iran. OPEC set aside its output target of 30 million barrels a day at its Dec. 4 meeting in Vienna.

Iranian output rose by 300,000 barrels a day to 3.5 million, the most since December 2011. Sanctions against the nation, which were strengthened in July 2012, were lifted in January. The Islamic republic is boosting production after sanctions were removed upon completion of an agreement limiting its nuclear program.

"The most significant number is Iran’s," said Mike Wittner, head of oil markets at Societe Generale SA in New York. "Iran continues to increase output at a fairly healthy clip, which has been the case since January."

Iraqi Barrels

Iraqi production rose by 160,000 barrels a day to 4.31 million in April, according to the survey. OPEC’s second-biggest producer pumped a record 4.51 million barrels a day in January.

Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s top producer, increased output by 80,000 barrels a day to 10.27 million, the highest level since November.

"Saudi Arabia and Iraq are very strong and Iran is coming back quickly," Wittner said.

Kuwaiti production slipped 100,000 barrels a day to 2.9 million, the biggest decline in April. Kuwait plans to boost oil production to more than 3 million barrels a day within months, doubling output from where it stood during last week’s oil-worker strike.

OPEC ministers are scheduled to gather on June 2 in Vienna.

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