OPEC Raises Crude Output to 3-Month High on Saudi Arabia, Iraq

OPEC boosted its crude production to the highest in three months in February led by increased output from Saudi Arabia and Iraq.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries pumped 30.31 million barrels a day last month, the producer group said in its monthly oil market report. That’s up from 30.24 million in January and is the most since November, according to OPEC estimates based on secondary sources. U.S. supplies will rise to the most in almost three decades in 2013, OPEC estimated.

Brent crude prices have fallen 1 percent this year on renewed concern that the European debt crisis will crimp global growth and depress oil demand. The North Sea grade traded near $110 a barrel today on the ICE Futures Europe exchange in London. OPEC’s 12 members kept their collective output target of 30 million barrels a day unchanged at their last meeting in December.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest crude exporter, increased output to 9.12 million barrels a day in February from 9.08 million the previous month, OPEC said. The kingdom said in its direct communication with the group that it pumped 9.15 million.

Iranian production in February was unchanged at 2.7 million barrels a day, OPEC said. The country’s own estimate was 3.7 million, which would put it as the second-biggest producer.

U.S. supplies are forecast to increase 580,000 barrels a day this year to average 10.59 million barrels a day, which would be the most since 1985, OPEC said. The gains will be driven by rising tight oil output in Texas and North Dakota.

World oil demand growth is forecast to rise 840,000 barrels a day this year to 89.67 million barrels a day, little changed from last month’s report. The demand for OPEC’s crude is estimated to average 29.7 million barrels a day in 2013.

The group will next gather on May 31 at its secretariat in Vienna to discuss production policy. The International Energy Agency will release its monthly report tomorrow.

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