The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)'s ten output-cutting members produced 22.94 million barrels a day (bpd) of crude in March, according to OPEC and oil industry officials surveyed by Platts.
The survey showed that the ten countries, excluding Iraq, which does not have an OPEC quota, raised production by 250,000 bpd in March, leaving them 1.24 million bpd in excess of their self-imposed output ceiling.
"The market will be looking at the embargo announced by Iraq, and whether it in fact holds," said Platts Global Director of Oil, John Kingston. “The jury is still out over whether other countries will step in to fill any void left by Venezuela or by Iraq," he added
Including Iraq, which exports oil under the United Nations' Oil-For-Food program, OPEC pumped a total of 25.45 million bpd in March, up from 25.19 million bpd in February. Despite erratic output levels over the month, ranging from as low as 6.7 million barrels for the week beginning March 16, to as high as 16.5 million barrels for the week beginning March 23, Iraqi production rose slightly, from 2.5 million bpd in February to 2.51-million bpd in March.
The biggest single increase came from Saudi Arabia, which boosted output by 130,000 bpd to pump an average 7.37 million bpd over the month against a quota of 7.053 million bpd, the survey showed. Iran hiked output by 50,000 bpd to produce an average 3.38 million bpd against a quota of 3.186 million bpd.
Some analysts expect higher levels of leakage in April following Iraq's announcement that it would suspend exports for 30 days to protest Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories. Iraq exported 2.36 million bpd in the week to March 29, according to the UN.
Senior delegates have said that Iraq's export stoppage, even if it is sustained for a month, is not a huge loss to world markets given the current supply and demand picture. But leading analysts do not agree, saying OPEC will be under pressure to make up for the Iraqi barrels.
OPEC's 21.7-million bpd ceiling is intended to run through June. Some ministers have suggested in recent weeks that demand for oil is likely to be such that the cartel may not be in a position to raise output after June. — (menareport.com)
© 2002 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )