Saudi Oil Output Said to Drop as OPEC Debates Production Freeze

Iran's Oil Output Edges Higher
  • Kingdom’s production falls to 10.63 million barrels in August
  • Saudi Arabia pumped record 10.67 million barrels a day in July

Saudi Arabia told OPEC that its oil production dropped by 40,000 barrels a day in August to 10.63 million barrels as the group debates a deal to curb output to shore up prices.

The figures were submitted to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, according a person with knowledge of the data, who asked not to be identified because the information hadn’t yet been made public. The country’s output declined from an all-time high of 10.67 million barrels a day in July, according to OPEC submissions.

OPEC and Russia are putting cooperation back on the table, after two years of a Saudi-led strategy by the producer group to pump flat out to protect market share against the surge in U.S. shale oil. Their last attempt to do this -- a proposal to freeze output in April -- collapsed after Saudi Arabia refused to proceed without all OPEC states, including regional rival Iran, participating.

“The most important issue is whether Saudi Arabia will cut its production to pre-summer levels,” said Anas al-Hajji, an independent analyst and former chief economist at NGP Energy Capital Management LLC in Houston. The kingdom’s production was 10.22 million barrels a day in March, before the hot summer boosted seasonal local demand.

Iran Output

Iran insists it will be ready to decide on capping production once output recovers to what it was before international sanctions on the country were tightened in 2012. That level is “slightly” above 4 million barrels a day, and Iran may reach it by the end of 2016 or early next year, Mohsen Ghamsari, director for international affairs at state-run National Iranian Oil Co., said Thursday in an interview in Singapore.

Iran’s production rose to 3.63 million barrels a day in August from 3.62 million barrels a day in the previous month, according the person with knowledge of the data.

Output in Iraq, OPEC’s second-biggest producer, rose to 4.638 million barrels a day in August from 4.606 million barrels a day the previous month, the person said. Kuwait also increased, to 2.987 million barrels a day from 2.95 million barrels a day, he said.

Nigeria’s production rose to 1.456 million barrels a day in August from 1.27 million barrels a day, the person said. The Niger Delta Avengers, a militant organization, declared an end to attacks on Nigerian oil infrastructure, according to a statement last month on a website that said it represents the group.

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