IEA Sees Increased OPEC Crude Output Driven by Gains From Iraq

OPEC crude output rose in February to the highest level in at least three months, with Iraq and Iran boosting production even as refinery maintenance damped demand, according to the International Energy Agency.

The 12 members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting countries pumped 30.49 million barrels a day in February, up 150,000 barrels from January’s output of 30.34 million, the Paris-based IEA said today in its monthly oil market report.

“Increased supplies from Iraq as well as smaller increments from Iran, Algeria, Qatar, Nigeria and Libya offset lower output from Angola,” the IEA said. “Demand for OPEC crude remained subdued by cutbacks from refiners as the peak spring turnaround period gets underway, especially at plants in Asia.”

OPEC, which supplies about 40 percent of the world’s oil, estimated that its members produced 30.31 million barrels a day last month, based on secondary sources, according to a report the group issued yesterday. The IEA, energy adviser to the world’s richest industrialized nations, said Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s biggest producer, pumped 9.25 million barrels a day in February, unchanged from January.

Iraqi output rose 6 percent to 3.14 million barrels a day in February, up from 2.97 million barrels the previous month, according to the IEA. This was the first time in two months that the nation’s output exceeded 3 million barrels a day, mostly as a result of increased tanker exports from Basrah in southern Iraq, the agency said.

Iran’s production grew by 70,000 barrels a day to 2.72 million barrels last month, with the “increased output reportedly going to China and India,” the IEA said, without saying where it got the information.

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

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