OPEC Crude Production Drops to One-Year Low in January, IEA Says

OPEC crude output fell to the lowest in a year as the group prepared for a decline in global refinery processing, according to the International Energy Agency.

The 12 members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting countries pumped 30.34 million barrels a day in January, down 100,000 barrels from 30.44 million in December, the Paris-based IEA said in its monthly oil market report. OPEC’s own estimate of its production was 30.32 million, based on secondary sources, according to its report yesterday.

“Customer demand for crude supplies eased ahead of the spring refinery turnaround season” in the northern hemisphere, the agency said.

The drop in OPEC production coincided with a 4 percent climb in Brent crude on the ICE Futures Europe exchange in January. The benchmark grade fell 0.2 percent today to $118.48 a barrel. OPEC reaffirmed its 30 million barrels a day output quota in December. The group will next meet in May.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest crude exporter, produced 9.25 million barrels a day in January, rising from 9.15 million a month earlier.

Iran’s crude output was at the lowest in three decades at 2.65 million barrels a day, dropping 50,000 barrels a day from the previous month, the agency said. Exports fell below 1 million barrels last month, compared with an upward revision of 1.56 million for December, according to IEA estimates based on information submitted by Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development nations, customs data and news reports from non-OECD countries and tanker data.

Iranian production “may fall further in coming months following implementation on 6 February of additional sanctions by the U.S.,” the IEA said. “The latest expansion of sanctions is expected to further undermine government finances as its oil export earnings are now effectively locked in the buyers’ countries.”

The IEA is the energy adviser to the OECD. OPEC’s members are Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Venezuela.

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