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OPEC Output Soars As Venezuela Bounces Back From The Brink

OPEC’s crude oil production jumped by nearly 1 million bpd in October compared to September after top producer Saudi Arabia recovered from the mid-September attacks on its oil infrastructure, more than offsetting losses in restive Ecuador and trying-to-comply Iraq and Nigeria.

OPEC’s total crude oil production averaged 29.65 million bpd in October, up by 943,000 bpd compared to September, OPEC said in its closely watched Monthly Oil Market Report on Thursday.

Unsurprisingly, the biggest contributor to the increase was the cartel’s largest producer and de facto leader Saudi Arabia, which recovered its production to the levels just before the attacks on crucial oil infrastructure on September 14. Saudi Arabia boosted production by 1.094 million bpd from September to 9.890 million bpd in October, and it is still overcomplying with its share of the cuts by more than 400,000 bpd.

Somewhat surprisingly, the OPEC member with the second-largest monthly production boost was none other than Venezuela, which saw its production rise by 42,000 bpd to 687,000 bpd in October, according to OPEC’s secondary sources which the cartel uses to track production and compliance. The production increase in Venezuela was already previewed in two separate surveys earlier this month, by Platts and by Reuters, which both showed higher Venezuelan production and Saudi Arabia returning to pre-attacks production levels. Related: OPEC Is Desperate For A Trade War Resolution

Elsewhere in the group, the biggest decline came from Ecuador, whose oil production and exports were disrupted due to massive protests around the country, sparked by a government decision to eliminate fuel subsidies—a decision on which President Lenin Moreno later backtracked. Ecuador, which will leave OPEC as of January 1, saw its crude oil production plunge by 100,000 bpd to 448,000 bpd in October.

Iraq and Nigeria, two of the repeatedly non-compliant OPEC members, reduced their respective production, but they were still pumping above their quotas.

Saudi Arabia is reportedly pressuring non-compliant cartel members to fall in line with their quotas ahead of the December 5-6 meeting, instead of pushing aggressively for a deeper overall cut to rebalance the market.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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