OPEC December Output Falls to Year-Low on Saudi Cuts: IEA

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries pumped at the lowest level in a year in December on reduced output from Saudi Arabia and Iraq, its two largest producers, the International Energy Agency said.

Production from OPEC’s 12 members, which together supply about 40 percent of the world’s oil, fell to 30.64 million barrels a day in December, from 30.9 million the previous month, the Paris-based IEA said. Output exceeded the group’s quota target of 30 million barrels a day.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest crude exporter, reduced production to 9.36 million barrels a day last month, from 9.65 million in November, the agency said today in its monthly Oil Market Report.

The kingdom’s output was “down 600,000 barrels a day from October’s lofty 9.95 million barrels a day, when crude exports surged to China,” it said. “The downturn in production reflects a myriad of fundamental developments, not least of which is the country’s sharply lower seasonal domestic demand.”

Supply from Iraq, the group’s second-largest producer, fell for the first time in five months, the agency said. It pumped 2.97 million barrels a day, 7 percent less than in November. Iraq’s output remained higher than Iran’s for a seventh month.

Nigeria’s monthly output increased to 2.1 million barrels a day from November’s 1.88 million. Production in the country rebounded after the end of the rainy season, which had caused the worst flooding in about 50 years, the IEA said.

Hostage Taking

Production in Algeria was unchanged at 1.18 million barrels a day in December, the report showed, with the figures covering the month before the recent hostage situation at a gas field in the country.

“The 16 January kidnapping and murder of foreign oil workers at the In Amenas gas field has cast a dark cloud over the outlook for the country’s energy sector,” the agency said. “Production at the field was shut-in, including an estimated 50,000 barrels a day of condensate.”

OPEC’s members are Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Venezuela. The group meets next in May.

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