Saudi oil output continues upward as Iraqi volumes plunge
The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)'s total crude production rose to 27.78 million barrels per day (bpd) in March from 27.03 million bpd in February, an increase of 750,000 bpd, revealed a Platts survey.
The total includes Iraqi production at 1.44-million bpd. Excluding Iraqi production, however, the ten members with quotas produced an average 26.34 million bpd in March, 1.82 million bpd more than their February average of 24.52 million bpd and 1.84 million bpd more than their official 24.52 million bpd ceiling, the survey showed.
OPEC has increased production by some three million bpd since January, although more than 1.6 million bpd of this is accounted for by Venezuela's recovery from a low of 650,000 bpd in January to 2.28 million bpd in March.
Apart from Venezuela, the only other country to have increased output significantly is Saudi Arabia, which pumped an average 9.46 million bpd in March, up 990,000 bpd since January. But Saudi Arabia had already started increasing output in December, when the Venezuelan oil strike began. Since December, Riyadh has increased production by 1.44 million bpd. Its OPEC quota is 7.963 million bpd.
The latest OPEC production survey from Platts coincided with the news that OPEC ministers are to meet in Vienna April 24 to discuss how to respond to the slide in oil prices over the past few weeks. Even as the cartel was pumping extra oil to try to contain surging oil prices ahead of the U.S.-led war on Iraq, its top officials were warning of a possible oil price collapse in the second quarter when oil demand drops.
Some OPEC ministers and senior delegates have suggested that even if Iraqi oil were to stay off the market for several months, the drop in demand, combined with rising Venezuelan production, would more than compensate for the lost Iraqi barrels. Iraqi production, meanwhile, plunged by 1.07 million bpd in March from February's 2.51 million bpd average. — (menareport.com)
© 2003 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)
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