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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Survey Shows Oil Output Up, Compliance Slipping




LONDON -- OPEC oil exporters kept compliance with supply curbs little changed in January despite the temptation of yet another surge in crude prices, a Reuters survey found.


Higher output from Iraq, not party to OPEC limits, pushed overall cartel output up 560,000 barrels per day from December to 26.29 million bpd, according to the survey of OPEC and industry officials, consultants and tanker trackers.


The survey shows that compliance by the 10 OPEC members that participate in supply restrictions slipped a notch to 73 percent in January from a December estimate of 74 percent.


OPEC 10 output cuts amounted to 3.162 million bpd in January from 3.212 million in December, or more than one million bpd below the 4.32 million target for cuts established last March.


United Nations figures show Iraq pumped exports of 1.55 million bpd, up 500,000 bpd on average for the month with another 620,000 bpd for domestic use and sales trucked to Jordan.


Baghdad remains more than 500,000 bpd short of previous export capacity after bad weatherand a shortage of spare parts took their toll on January liftings.


Monitors continued to report a wide range of estimates of compliance among the OPEC 10, varying between 65 percent and 85 percent.


But not even the most loyal of OPEC watchers claims adherence at the 90 percent seen at the height of cartel good behavior last year.


OPEC, which meets at the end of March, has yet to decide whether to ease the restrictions or leave its pact in place for a few more months, the policy favored by cartel price hawks.


Monitors saw signs of a little extra oil from big Gulf producers Saudi Arabia and Iran during January and a little less from Nigeria and Indonesia.


Saudi Arabia, 80 percent compliant, was estimated at 7.7 million bpd while Iran edged up to 3.53 million.


A December recovery in Nigerian output again was reversed, with Shell-operated supply down 40,000 bpd to 695,000 bpd. Community protests now apparently under control, Nigeria looks set to at 2 million bpd or above in February, compared to its 1.885 million quota.


Indonesia in January shaved 20,000 bpd from supply to 1.30 million because of natural declines across aging oil fields.


The Reuters survey seeks a best estimate of wellhead flows in OPEC countries based on the views of officials, industry monitors and analysts inside and outside member countries.


A senior oil official of an OPEC member state said the cartel would consider all possibilities at its meeting next month, including the option of raising oil output, the Middle East Economic Survey said Monday.


"The options ... include the possibility of a small increase beginning in the second quarter, or an increase at the beginning of the third or fourth quarter," the official told MEES.