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OPEC Oil Output Falls From Record Highs

OPEC Rig

A newly released survey by Reuters indicates that OPEC oil output in December fell from its record high - for the first time since May - falling to 34.18 million barrels per day, down from 34.38 million in November. This is supported by a tweet from a Wall Street Journal reporter that the Saudis have already cut output to honor the OPEC pledge.

WSJ reporter Georgi Kantchev tweeted on Thursday that Saudi Arabia has already cut oil output by at least 486,000 barrels per day to 10.058 million barrels per day. Kantchev cited an unnamed and undescribed source in his tweet.

The Reuters survey, based on shipping data and industry sources, noted that OPEC—as of December—was pumping 1.68 million barrels per day above the 32.5 million production ceiling agreed to at the 30 November meeting, effective 1 January 2017.

The biggest output drop came from Nigeria, where the government is facing down Niger Delta militants targeting oil installations.

Saudi Arabia also pumped less, according to the survey, after seeing record output in November. The reason for lower Saudi oil exports in December was lower demand, rather than an effort to make cuts.

On the flip side, Libya, which along with Nigeria is exempt from the November deal cuts, saw an increase in output, as did Iraq. Iran also put out 300,000 barrels per day more, according to the survey.

Related: Why Russia Expects $40 Oil This Year

Earlier today, news agencies reported that Saudi’s state-owned Saudi Aramco had launched talks about cutting between 3 percent and 7 percent of its February crude shipments in line with the Kingdom’s commitment to cut output by 486,000 barrels per day.

Iraq oil officials also said today that they had implemented output cuts as of 1 January, but offered no further details.

By Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com

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