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OPEC Oil Output Rises As Saudis Pump At Record While Iran Slumps

Oil rig

OPEC’s crude oil production increased by 40,000 bpd from October to 33.08 million bpd in November, as Saudi Arabia pumped at record highs, more than offsetting—together with the UAE—the drop off in Iran’s oil production, the monthly Platts OPEC survey showed on Wednesday.

Saudi Arabia and its Gulf ally the United Arab Emirates set all-time highs in their production in November, the month on which U.S. sanctions on Iran’s oil snapped back, according to the S&P Global Platts survey of shipping data, industry officials, and analysts.

OPEC’s de facto leader and largest producer Saudi Arabia saw its oil production soar by 350,000 bpd from October to 11.02 million bpd in November—an all-time high, and 1 million bpd higher than the level at which Riyadh was producing in May this year, after it opened the taps to offset what was expected to be a steep loss of Iranian oil supply as U.S. sanctions were drawing nearer.

The UAE also significantly boosted its oil production—by 130,000 bpd from October to 3.3 million bpd in November—and a rise of 430,000 bpd compared to May, according to the Platts survey.

Iran, in view of the U.S. sanctions stifling its exports, saw its oil production drop below 3 million bpd—the first time output has dropped below that level since the previous sanctions were lifted in January 2016. According to the Platts survey, Iran’s production averaged 2.98 million bpd last month, down by 310,000 bpd from October.

Iraq’s oil production dropped by 50,000 bpd to 4.57 million bpd, as bad weather at the Basra ports disrupted loadings last month. Venezuela’s production dropped slightly to stand at 1.17 million bpd, the survey found.

OPEC is meeting on Thursday to discuss a new production cut amid fears of another oversupply building on the market. The Russia-led non-OPEC group part of the production cut deal in place since January 2017 are joining OPEC for a collective decision on Friday.

OPEC’s oil exports also increased last month—jumping by 619,000 bpd, data from French shipping data tracking company Kpler showed earlier this week, with Venezuela notable for a 358,000-bpd increase alone. Saudi Arabia came on top, with an increase of 791,000 bpd in its exports, followed by the UAE, whose crude oil shipments rose by 470,000 bpd.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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