OPEC September Output at 10-Month High in Survey

OPEC crude production climbed to a 10-month high in September as Saudi Arabia pumped barrels at the fastest pace in at least 24 years, a Bloomberg survey showed.

Output by the 12-member Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries increased 43,000 barrels to an average 31.082 million barrels a day this month from a revised 31.039 million in August, the survey of oil companies, producers and analysts showed. The August total was revised lower by 1,000 barrels a day because of changes to the estimate for Ecuador.

“The supply picture is quite bearish,” said Julius Walker, global energy markets strategist at UBS Securities LLC in New York. “This is quite a dramatic change from what looked like an extremely tight market recently.”

Brent crude for November settlement declined 26 cents to end the session at $108.37 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange today. Brent is the benchmark grade for more than half the world’s oil. West Texas Intermediate oil for November delivery fell 54 cents, or 0.5 percent, to settle at $102.33 on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Saudi output jumped 50,000 barrels to 10 million barrels a day in September, the seventh straight gain and the highest level for OPEC’s biggest supplier in monthly data going back to 1989. It was the third-biggest advance of any OPEC member this month, after Nigeria and Iraq. The desert kingdom can pump 12.5 million barrels a day.

Saudi Capability

“The Saudis are capable of keeping the market steady despite declines elsewhere,” said Michael Lynch, president of Strategic Energy & Economic Research in Winchester, Massachusetts. “They have helped offset the drop in Libyan output and still have plenty of additional capacity.”

Nigeria’s production climbed 130,000 barrels to 2.15 million barrels a day in September, the most since August 2012, the survey showed. Output is often disrupted by unrest in the Niger River delta, the country’s main oil-producing region.

Iraqi output increased 100,000 barrels a day to 3.3 million this month, the most since December. Production increased after the start of output at Gharraf oil field and new wells went into operation at a number of other fields.

Iran pumped 2.6 million barrels a day, up 30,000 barrels from August. Iran, the group’s second-biggest producer in June 2012, is now in sixth place. Sanctions aimed at stopping the Islamic republic’s nuclear program have hindered its ability to export crude oil.

Libyan Production

Libyan output tumbled 275,000 barrels to 300,000 barrels a day this month, the survey showed. It was the sixth straight decline and sent production to the lowest level since September 2011. Two years after the war that swept the late Muammar Qaddafi from power, Libyan government efforts to revive the oil industry are being stymied by feuding militias and protests.

The North African country’s crude production exceeded 700,000 barrels a day yesterday, nearly 45 percent of installed capacity, on higher output from the western region, said Ibrahim Al Awami, the Oil Ministry’s measurement director. The Hamada oil field resumed operations last weekend, adding 8,000 barrels a day to output, he said in a telephone interview yesterday.

“The return of most production in the western part of the country suggests that things are on the mend,” Walker said. “The Libyan government remains unstable.”

The United Arab Emirates trimmed production by 20,000 barrels a day to 2.9 million this month, the second-biggest decline in the survey. The U.A.E. pumped 2.92 million barrels a day in August, the most in monthly data going back to 1989.

‘Robust Level’

“We’re looking at a robust level of output overall,” said John Kilduff, a partner at Again Capital LLC, a New York-based hedge fund that focuses on energy. “The Saudis have stepped it up and have helped make up for the declines in Libya. The market is rapidly moving from a potential shortfall to oversupply.”

OPEC ministers left their official production target at 30 million barrels a day at their most recent meeting on May 31. They will gather next on Dec. 4 in Vienna.

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