BEIJING, Feb. 4 -- Crude-oil production by the Organization of Petroleum
Exporting Countries (OPEC) fell 1.2 per cent in January, led by declines in Iraq
and Saudi Arabia, a Bloomberg survey showed.
Daily production by all 11 OPEC members fell 370,000 barrels to an average
of 29.44 million barrels, according to the survey of oil companies, producers
and analysts. It was the third straight monthly decline after six months of
OPEC pumped 30.54 million barrels a day in October, the highest since
December 1979, based on figures kept by the US Energy Department. The 10 OPEC
members with quotas, all except Iraq, agreed on December 10 to cut output by
about 1 million barrels of oil a day, starting January 1, in an effort to keep
prices from falling as a surplus developed.
"We can expect to continue seeing OPEC production decline as they try to
stabilize prices," said Carl Larry, an associate director of energy futures at
Barclays Capital Inc in New York. "As time passes, it will be reflected in US
Iraqi output fell 90,000 barrels, or 4.7 per cent, to 1.82 million barrels
a day in January. Iraq is the only OPEC member without a production quota.
The Persian Gulf nation produced 2.48 million barrels a day in February
2003, before the US-led invasion. The country's production and exports have been
limited because of sabotage to pipelines and other oil facilities.
Iraqi exports averaged 1.4 million barrels a day in January, down from 1.5
million the prior month. Shipments from northern Iraq have been halted for a
month following an attack on a pipeline to Turkey.
Sabotage to pumping equipment caused power cuts, reducing shipments from
the Persian Gulf, where rough seas also prevented tankers from docking and
loading at the Basra oil terminal, Iraq's largest.
The other 10 OPEC members reduced daily output by 230,000 barrels, or 0.8
per cent, to 27.62 million barrels. The 10 exceeded their self-assigned quotas
by a combined 620,000 barrels a day last month.
Saudi Arabia, the world's top exporter, cut production by 200,000 barrels,
or 2.1 per cent, to 9.13 million barrels a day, according to the survey. The
Saudis said they would cut 500,000 barrels a day of crude oil output as part of
the December OPEC accord.
Effective in January, Saudi production figures no longer include
approximately 180,000 barrels a day in condensates, which are blended with crude
Nigeria and Venezuela
Nigeria and Venezuela both increased production by 50,000 barrels a day
last month. Oil companies in Nigeria were able to increase production after a
rash of labour disputes. ChevronTexaco Corp, the second-largest US oil company,
has about 140,000 barrels a day of production still shut in because of the
recent unrest. Exxon Mobil Corp is the biggest US oil company.
(Source: China Daily by Mark Shenk and Ken Miller)