London – The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) pumped 500,000 fewer barrels per day (bpd) last month because of declines in Iraq, Libya and Angola, according to a report released yesterday.
Output fell to 29.9 million bpd in March as Iraqi production dropped 200,000 bpd and maintenance at Angola’s Plutonio field took 150,000 bpd offline according the report obtained by Nogtec in Vienna.
OPEC members, which include Iran, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and Qatar, are due to meet in June to re-evaluate a 30 million bpd target unchanged since 2011. The production ceiling, which included a resurgent Iraq for the first time since the last war, does not specify quotas for individual countries.
Besides potentially prickly quotas, members have yet to choose a new secretary general for their organisation. The decision between candidates from spare capacity powerhouse Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran has been delayed since 2012.
OPEC’s choice of leader will be critical in shaping how it responds to the North American shale boom, which will catapult the US past Saudi Arabia and Russia to the position of top global oil producer by next year, according to the International Energy Agency, the Paris-based consumer watchdog.
American exports of the light sweet crude prized by European refiners could reach 1.5 million bpd, making the US one of the world’s top 10 oil exporters, said a separate report released yesterday by JBC Energy. Those volumes would mainly go to Europe to replace lost domestic and African oil.
But OPEC will retain the power to sway oil prices, said the consultancy: “US exports [are] unlikely to drive down benchmark prices significantly as OPEC producers would still have room to reduce supplies to make up for the additional volumes, thereby keeping global supplies balanced.”