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OPEC oil production increases in February, led by Iraq: survey Saudi trims output

LONDON, Feb 28, (RTRS): OPEC’s oil output has risen further in February from December’s 2-1/2-year low, due to more shipments from Iraq and Angola, and further upward creep in Iranian exports, a Reuters survey found on Friday. Output from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries averaged 29.96 million barrels per day (bpd), up from a revised 29.79 million bpd in January, according to the survey based on shipping data and information from sources at oil companies, OPEC and consultants. The survey illustrates the potential for OPEC supply to rebound in 2014 if Iraq and Iran sustain higher output, potentially weighing on oil prices unless outages persist in Libya or top exporter Saudi Arabia cuts back. “If OPEC production is rising, this would only add to the existing over-supply,” said Carsten Fritsch, analyst at Commerzbank in Frankfurt. He expects Brent crude to fall further towards the middle of its trading band of $100-110 a barrel over the next few weeks due to ample supplies.

In February, a jump in Iraqi exports, an increase in Angola and a further small rise in Iranian shipments outweighed reductions in Libya, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia. OPEC’s December output was the lowest since May 2011, when the group pumped 28.90 million bpd, according to Reuters surveys. Despite increases this month and in January, supply is below OPEC’s nominal target of 30 million bpd for a fifth straight month. The biggest increase came from Iraq, whose exports from its southern terminals jumped by more than 300,000 bpd as shipping delays caused by bad weather in January were cleared. Shipments of Kirkuk crude also increased from Iraq’s north.

Angola’s exports have increased in February, mainly as the shorter month lifted the daily rate. The increase is unlikely to last as maintenance at BP’s Plutonio oilfield is set to reduce exports in March.
Iranian supply to market was estimated at 2.82 million bpd, up 70,000 bpd. The modest pickup is the fourth consecutive monthly rise, according to sources who track tanker movements, and adds to signs that the easing of sanctions on Tehran is helping it sell more crude. The largest decline in OPEC was from Libya, where output declined to 230,000 bpd by the end of the month from January’s average of 550,000 bpd because of strikes and protests.

Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia, industry sources say, trimmed output slightly. Saudi state oil company Saudi Aramco told some term buyers that it will supply less Arab Extra Light crude due to maintenance at one of its biggest oilfields, Shaybah. “I think they are taking advantage of a seasonal slow period,” said an industry source of the timing of the maintenance. “They may re-jig production from other fields to keep pace with demand. If market demand is there, then they will supply it.”

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