Image courtesy of Kolikeslan/Wikimedia Commons.

OPEC production showed few signs of slowing down in December as the group still pumped over 32 million barrels per day despite an over 100,000 bpd decline.

According to Platts, overall OPEC oil production fell by 130,000 bpd to 32.28 million bpd from 32.41 million bpd in November on lower production levels from Iraq, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia saw production tick down by 50,000 bpd to 10.1 million bpd last month, marking the ninth consecutive month the country has pumped over 10 million bpd.

The oil rich kingdom has given no signs that it will slow production despite global crude prices sinking to multi-year lows.

While Saudi Arabian officials have defended the country’s decision to retain and even expand its market share amid low prices the kingdom has not substantially cut government spending.

“The kingdom is facing an unprecedented budget crunch amid the steep drop in oil prices since mid-2014,” Platts said.

According to a research note from Riyadh-based Jadwa Investments seen by Platts, the kingdom’s current budget assumed crude prices of about $40.30 per barrel and a production level of about 10.2 million bpd.

State-owned Saudi Aramco confirmed earlier this month that it is studying a potential initial public offering that could include “various options to allow broad public participation in its equity” in either the company as a whole or a bundle of its downstream subsidiaries.

Iraqi output fell by 50,000 bpd month over month, to 4.25 million bpd from an adjusted November volume of 4.3 million bpd, Platts said.

In Nigeria, the declaration of force majeure on Brass River crude exports on December 24 pushed that country’s output down by 40,000 bpd to 1.86 million.

Trading sources told Platts that exports of Brass River crude restarted “in the latter part of this week.”

Oil production in Libya held steady at an average of 380,000 bpd as clashes between the country’s rival governments and attacks launched by Islamic State continued to hold production well below the 1.58 million bpd the country produced prior to 2011.

Iran pumped an estimated 2.89 million bpd in December, a 10,000 bpd jump from November, Platts said.

While Iran is expected to boost exports now that Western sanctions have been lifted it remains unclear just how quickly the country will be able to ramp production and exports back up to pre-sanction levels.

Iran is expected to boost production by about 500,000 bpd in the near term as it courts investment from Western firms and banks to further expand its output.

Indonesia produced an estimated 700,000 bpd of crude in December after rejoining OPEC that same month after a six year hiatus, Platts said.

“Collapsing oil prices and oversupply used to be a recipe for, at the very least, an emergency OPEC meeting. That is no longer the case, however, and Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies appear to be as committed to their laissez-faire production policy as they ever were,” Platts senior correspondent Margaret McQuaile said.

OPEC is scheduled to meet on June 2 in Vienna, Austria.


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