OPEC to Cut Exports as Asian Demand Slows, Oil Movements Says

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will reduce crude exports this month as refiners in Asia prepare for seasonal maintenance, according to tanker-tracker Oil Movements.

OPEC, responsible for 40 percent of global oil supplies, will decrease shipments by 400,000 barrels a day, or 1.6 percent, to 24.2 million barrels in the four weeks to March 22, Oil Movements said in an e-mailed note. The figures exclude two of OPEC’s 12 members, Angola and Ecuador. Exports had climbed from January through early March on winter demand in the northern hemisphere and stockpile-building in China, according to the consultant.

“There’s a reduction in eastbound sailings from both the Middle East and West Africa,” Oil Movements founder Roy Mason said by phone from Halifax, England. “It’s certainly a normal seasonal change. Refiners aren’t yet in the maintenance period, but it’s coming up and they’ve past the seasonal peak” in demand, he said.

Global oil consumption typically ebbs at the end of the first quarter as demand for heating fuel tapers off and refiners start to perform routine overhauls. Brent crude slipped 2.7 percent this year, trading for $107.80 a barrel on the ICE Futures Europe exchange as of 3:46 p.m. London time.

Middle Eastern exports will average 17.74 million barrels a day in the month to March 22, compared with 18.11 million in the period to Feb. 22, Oil Movements said. These figures include non-OPEC nations Oman and Yemen.

Crude on board tankers will drop by 1.7 percent to 493.88 million barrels through March 22, from 502.59 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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