Will Increased OPEC Production Proceed Drop in Gas Prices?

By US Daily Review Staff.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’ (OPEC) crude oil output jumped by 550,000 barrels per day (b/d) to 30.6 million b/d in November from 30.05 million b/d in October, mainly on higher volumes from Libya, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and Angola, a just-released Platts survey of OPEC and oil industry officials and analysts showed.

“The Platts survey results put OPEC production levels above the group’s own forecasted demand for OPEC crude next year,” said John Kingston, Platts global director of news. “In recent months, OPEC has out-produced its own projections, which was worrisome for consumers. However, this significant jump in production puts OPEC above its expected 2012 total, and at least near the individual quarter-by-quarter projections. It’s a big change.”

Recovering Libyan production, which rose month on month by 200,000 b/d to 550,000 b/d, accounted for the biggest single increase. Libya’s National Oil Corporation said on November 30 that production had risen to 840,000 b/d.

Angola, where output from the Total-operated Pazflor oil field has been ramping up, accounted for a sizeable boost. The survey estimated Angola’s November output at 1.8 million b/d, up 100,000 b/d from October.

Nigerian volumes also rose by 100,000 b/d month on month. Shell lifted a force majeure on Forcados more than a month ahead of schedule after completing repairs on a key pipeline in the Niger Delta that had been damaged.

Saudi Arabian output averaged 9.7 million b/d, 100,000 b/d greater than October volumes but below the 10 million b/d figure Saudi officials say they pumped in November.

Including smaller increments from Iraq and Kuwait, the total volume of increases was 570,000 b/d, but this was offset slightly by a 20,000 b/d dip in Iranian output.

OPEC’s December 14 meeting in Vienna is just a few days away, but there is as yet no clear signal of how the oil-producing organization will address output policy.

At its meeting in June, OPEC failed to agree on production levels for the second half of the year, leaving its member countries free to produce at will. Effectively, however, the quota system had already been redundant for some time, with the allocations of the previous agreement largely ignored by those countries with the capacity to increase production as oil prices rose.

A senior OPEC delegate said on December 6 that the most logical solution would be for the group to set a crude output ceiling reflecting overall demand for OPEC oil but without defining individual production quotas.

It would be difficult to reach an agreement with quotas based on what individual countries had produced in recent months, the delegate said, adding that he thought “the only solution” was to set an overall ceiling in line with the level of demand projected by OPEC’s Vienna secretariat.

This would leave OPEC with an overall output target or ceiling within which key producers could adjust volumes in line with demand.

In its November monthly oil market report, the OPEC secretariat estimated the 2012 call on OPEC crude at 30.04 million b/d. It will publish its December report on December 13, a day ahead of the meeting.

For production numbers by country, click here.

All opinions expressed on USDR are those of the author and not necessarily those of US Daily Review.

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