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Oil, Gas, Petrochemical and Energy Field Specialized Channel

OPEC Compliance 110% in September

OPEC has been under fire by the US for not pumping more to bring down oil prices.

 

OPEC's 15 countries boosted crude oil output in September to 33.07 million b/d, a 180,000 b/d rise from August, according to an S&P Global Platts survey of analysts, industry officials and shipping data released Friday, as the producer group seeks to instill confidence in its ability to keep the market well-supplied.

That is the most OPEC has pumped since July 2017, if the Republic of Congo, which joined the organization in June, is not included.

The survey indicates that OPEC and its 10 non-OPEC partners, led by Russia, have surpassed their stated aim of raising production by a combined 1 million b/d from May levels. OPEC's September output was 850,000 b/d above where it was in May, not including Congo, according to Platts survey data, while Russia on Tuesday reported a record high in its September output of 11.356 million b/d, up 390,000 b/d from May.

OPEC has been under fire by the US for not pumping more to bring down oil prices, which have hit four-year highs in recent days over apprehension that the producer bloc would be unable or unwilling to make up for expected output losses from sanctions-hit Iran and economically careening Venezuela.

Platts reported Wednesday that the US State Department accused OPEC of withholding some 1.42 million b/d of spare capacity from the market, a charge denied by Saudi energy minister Khalid al-Falih, who said at the Russia Energy Week forum Thursday that there was adequate supply and that the price rise was due to geopolitics and speculators.

Indeed, Saudi Arabia, OPEC's largest producer and the world's largest crude exporter, pumped 10.60 million b/d in September, according to the Platts survey, a 110,000 b/d increase from August.

That more than offset Iran's 100,000 b/d month-on-month decline to 3.50 million b/d in September, while Venezuelan production held steady at 1.22 million b/d, the survey found.

But many analysts expect Iran, whose exports are plummeting as its customers cut their purchases, to lose a further 1 million b/d or more after the sanctions go into effect November 5, and Venezuelan production to fall below 1 million b/d by year's end.

Iranian production is down 330,000 b/d since May, while Venezuela is down 140,000 b/d, according to the Platts survey.

Falih, who said Saudi Arabia's October production is expected to average 10.7 million b/d, said the kingdom was capable of pumping 1.3 million b/d above that, if there was the market demand to justify it. Saudi Arabia holds the bulk of global spare capacity.

An OPEC/non-OPEC monitoring committee is scheduled to meet November 11 in Abu Dhabi to assess market conditions and determine next steps. The next full OPEC meeting, when any policy change would be decided, is December 6 in Vienna.

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