London, United Kingdom | – Oil production from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) totalled 29.72 million barrels per day (b/ds) in April, up 160,000 b/d from March, led by increases in Iraq, Angola and Saudi Arabia, according to the latest Platts survey of OPEC and oil industry officials and analysts.
“There are a few striking numbers when you look at the country totals,” said John Kingston, Platts global director of news. “First, when there were the first signs of a loosening of Iranian sanctions, the expectation was that there might be a surge in Iranian output. But the country’s output has barely budged. Secondly, every so often there’s news out of Libya that indicates the country might be headed toward reversal of its depressed production. But April output is the lowest it’s been all year. It’s these sorts of numbers that help to keep world prices above $100/barrel.”
Iraq, despite the continued suspension of pipeline flows from the northern fields to Ceyhan in Turkey, increased output by 100,000 b/d to 3.25 million b/d. The country set a record of 2.509 million b/d for southern exports in April, which averaged less than 2.4 million b/d in March. Despite the coming on stream of new production in recent months, including West Qurna 2 in late March, technical constraints have limited the volume of oil available for export.
Saudi Arabia boosted output by 50,000 b/d to 9.65 million b/d in April. A Gulf source cited slightly higher requirements from customers. Within the kingdom, the 120,000 b/d Riyadh refinery closed down on April 15 for 45 days of maintenance.
Angolan output also rose by 50,000 b/d to average 1.65 million b/d.
Libyan output drifted down to 210,000 b/d in April from 220,000 b/d in March despite an agreement early in the month between Tripoli and rebels in the east of the country that saw the ports of Marsa al-Hariga and Zueitina open for the first time in nine months.
Operations had been expected to restart at Es Sider and Ras Lanuf as part of this pact but these major ports remain closed. The country’s oil sector has been under siege since May 2013, with production and exports disrupted intermittently by strikes, protests and port blockades. Among major oil fields shut in are Sharara, Elephant and Wafa.
In Nigeria, where Forcados remains under force majeure, production fell by 60,000 b/d to 1.9 million b/d.
Iranian output was estimated at 2.85 million b/d in April, unchanged from March. The country remains under oil and financial sanctions that have restricted Tehran’s access to international oil markets, with Europe off limits and exports moving to just six countries– China, India, Japan, South Korea, Turkey and Taiwan.
The April total keeps OPEC output within the group’s 30 million b/d ceiling, in place since January 2012. There are no individual country quotas. Ministers will meet in Vienna on June 11, but there are no indications at present that a policy change is likely. Saudi Arabian oil minister Ali Naimi said on Monday during a visit to South Korea that he saw no need for OPEC to change output.