Saudi Arabia has been unilaterally reining back supply in recent months, curbing crude output to a 13-month low of 9.67 million barrels a day last month, according to a monthly report from OPEC yesterday that cited secondary sources for its data.
In its own direct communication to OPEC, Saudi Arabia said November production was even lower, at 9.49 million.
Total production from all 12 OPEC nations slid to an 11- month low of 30.78 million barrels a day last month, the OPEC report showed. That’s still more than the group’s official quota and about 1.03 million barrels a day more than the projected average demand for OPEC crude next year, in part because of rising supply from outside the group, the report said.
“We are seeing some challenges for 2013, like the U.S. fiscal cliff and the debt crisis in Europe,” OPEC Secretary- General Abdalla El-Badri said in a press conference after today’s decision. “But we see some light at the end of the tunnel by the end of 2013, with China growth and a solution of the fiscal cliff situation in the U.S.”
U.S. crude oil production will climb 640,000 barrels a day to 7.1 million next year, the highest level since 1992, the Energy Department said yesterday in its monthly Short Term Energy Outlook.
While Al-Naimi told reporters he wasn’t concerned by burgeoning U.S. production from shale deposits, earlier in the day United Arab Emirates Oil Minister Mohammed Al-Hamli said: “we are very concerned. We will protect our interests.”
Ministers decided to keep El-Badri in the Secretary-General post for one more year, having failed to agree on replacement candidates fielded by Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran. El-Badri, a former Libyan oil minister, was due to step down from his second three-year term at the helm of the OPEC Secretariat at the end of this month.
“We have an experienced secretary-general in position, extending it one year is a very, very good decision,” al-Naimi said.
The producer group, founded in 1960, comprises Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Venezuela. OPEC will meet next on May 31 in the Austrian capital.