OPEC Cuts Exports to Lowest in Four Months, Oil Movements Says

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will cut crude shipments to the lowest level since September as refineries trim imports before conducting maintenance in the spring, according to Oil Movements.

OPEC, supplier of about 40 percent of the world’s oil, will reduce sailings by 390,000 barrels a day, or 1.6 percent, to 23.71 million barrels in the four weeks to Jan. 25, the researcher said today in a report. That compares with 24.1 million in the period to Dec. 28. The figures exclude two of OPEC’s 12 members, Angola and Ecuador.

“It’s a slowdown in West-bound sailings from the Gulf in advance of the maintenance season, which is not far away,” Oil Movements founder Roy Mason said by phone from Halifax, England. The reduction was probably made by Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s biggest member, he said.

Global oil demand typically declines at the end of the first quarter as winter demand for heating fuel ebbs and refiners begin to overhaul plants before driving fuel consumption climbs in the summer. Brent crude has lost 2.8 percent this year, trading for $107.65 a barrel as of 3:48 p.m. today on the ICE Futures Europe exchange in London.

Iran Exports

Exports from Iran declined to about 900,000 barrels a day in December from 1.03 million a day in November, Oil Movements said yesterday. The company began compiling Iran-specific export data last month that may include cargoes sold from floating storage, Mason said.

An agreement between Iran and world governments in November eased some restrictions on insuring cargoes of the nation’s crude, in return for a delay in its nuclear program.

Middle Eastern exports will decrease by 1.6 percent to 17.36 million barrels a day in the month to Jan. 25, compared with 17.64 million in the previous period, according to Oil Movements. The figures include non-OPEC nations Oman and Yemen.

Crude on board tankers will drop 1.1 percent to 482.4 million barrels through Jan. 25 from 487.68 million in the previous period, data from Oil Movements show. The researcher calculates volumes by tallying tanker bookings and excludes crude held on vessels for storage.

OPEC’s members are Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Venezuela. The group will next meet on June 11 at its headquarters in Vienna.

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