OPEC production sank by more than a quarter of a million barrels per day in December ahead of planned production cuts.

According to data collected by S&P Global Platts, total OPEC production declined by 280,000 bpd in December thanks to falling production in Nigeria and Saudi Arabia.

Total OPEC output fell to 32.85 million bpd in December, down from a record high of 33.13 million bpd in November.

That production decline was the first OPEC has recorded in seven months.

OPEC members agreed last month to cut its total production down by about 1.2 million bpd to about 32.5 million bpd, including Indonesian production.

Indonesia suspended its OPEC membership at the group’s meeting in December.

The production plan will be in place for an initial duration of six months and became effective as of January 1.

Nigeria was responsible for a large share of the production decline as militant attacks curbed activity in the country’s oil producing regions and planned maintenance halved loadings of export grade Agbami, S&P said.

Nigeria’s production slid down to 1.4 million bpd in December compared to 1.8 million bpd in November.

Libya saw its output rise to a two-year high of 620,000 bpd in December, a 40,000 bpd gain from November.

Libya’s output boost was driven by the the restart of the giant Sharara and Elephant fields in the middle of December.

Libyan output has grown by nearly 400,000 bpd over the last four months after a force majeure at three key oil terminals was lifted in September.

Nigeria and Libya are both exempt from the OPEC production cut deal.

Panelist surveyed by S&P Platts said they “do not expect Libya to derail the OPEC deal in the short term.”

The panelists added that they doubt that Libyan production will post large gains in the coming months without “significant investment.”

OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia saw its production decline to 10.42 million bpd in December, a 100,000 bpd decline from the kingdom’s November level.

Survey panelists told S&P that Saudi Arabia’s output was sinking “after having been unseasonably strong toward the second half of last year.”

Saudi Arabia is expected to further trim its output down to about 10.06 million bpd as part of the production plan.

Iranian output held steady at 3.69 million bpd in December.

S&P said that the lack of a production gains in Iran could signal that significant production increases may have “stalled” due to the country’s mature oil fields “urgently” needing investment and new technology see an output boost.

Analysts told S&P that, despite declining crude oil exports in December, refinery utilization in Iran had increased enough to hold production steady.

Despite the production agreement, Iraqi production climbed by 70,000 bpd to 4.63 million bpd in December.

Iraq also posted a “swift rise” in federal government exports from both the the Ceyhan Mediterranean oil terminal in Turkey and from Iraq’s Persian Gulf terminals the country’s, S&P said.

Iraqi oil minister Jabbar al-Luaibi has said the export boost will not impact the OPEC production deal and that Iraq has a plan in place to curb its output at the start of this year.

Survey panelists told S&P said that Iraq and other OPEC members may perform scheduled field maintenance during the first half of the year to temporarily reduce production.

“There are some encouraging signs that OPEC will deliver on its promised output cuts. But the crucial question is whether OPEC and non-OPEC can make the compliance stick long enough to clear out the stock overhang,” senior editor for S&P Global Platts Eklavya Gupte said.


Leave a Reply