OPEC crude output rises as Saudi cut outpaced by Libyan gain

Resumed Shipments

The Zueitina port and pipeline pumping complex shut in late December because protesters prevented employees from going to their offices, leading state-run National Oil Corp. to suspend pumping crude into a pipeline. The harbor handled about 150,000 barrels a day of exports in 2010, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Production in Libya plunged to 45,000 barrels a day in August 2011 from 1.585 million that January, the last month before an uprising that overthrew the government of Muammar Qaddafi disrupted output.

“There was a relatively rapid recovery after the country’s civil war but Libya’s oil industry has been hit by a number of problems,” Walker said. “Libyan capacity has yet to reach pre- war levels. The production gain is a hopeful signal.”

Nigeria’s output climbed 90,000 barrels to 2.08 million barrels a day in February, the survey showed. It was the second- biggest production advance. The country’s production is recovering after flooding in September and October shut oil fields in the Niger River delta.

Iran’s Ranking

Iran pumped 2.63 million barrels a day, up 30,000 barrels from January, according to the report. The country produced 2.63 million barrels a day last month, the lowest level since February 1990. Output was down 820,000 barrels from February 2012. Iran, the group’s biggest producer after Saudi Arabia a year ago, is now tied in sixth place.

Sanctions aimed at stopping the Islamic republic’s nuclear program have hindered its ability to export crude oil. A European Union ban on the purchase, transport, financing and insurance of Iranian oil came into effect on July 1.

“Iran is taking a lot of the bite,” said Sarah Emerson, managing director of Energy Security Analysis Inc. in Wakefield, Massachusetts. “Other members have had it easy because Iranian output is down so much from a year ago.”

Persian Gulf countries, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, also bolstered output this month. The UAE increased production by 50,000 barrels a day to 2.65 million in February. Kuwaiti output climbed 50,000 barrels a day to 2.95 million, the most since September.

Production Declines

Angola reduced output by 80,000 barrels to 1.73 million barrels a day this month, the second-biggest decline, after Saudi Arabia. There were some technical problems with some offshore production blocks, Jose Miguel, a spokesman for the Petroleum Ministry, said without giving more details in a telephone interview today in Luanda.

Algeria cut production by 70,000 barrels to 1.13 million barrels a day in February, the least since May 2003. Discoveries last year won’t offset declines in output, Algerian Energy Minister Youcef Yousfi said in Algiers on Feb. 20.

“OPEC is the midst of a delicate balancing act,” said John Kilduff, a partner at Again Capital LLC, a New York-based hedge fund that focuses on energy. “A number of members are struggling to maintain production rates.”

OPEC, provider of about 40% of the world’s oil, maintained its official production ceiling at 30 million barrels a day at a meeting Dec. 12 in Vienna. Ministers from the group’s members are next scheduled to gather May 31.

Bloomberg News

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