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The OPEC+ alliance boosted crude production by 170,000 b/d in September to the group's highest since April 2020, according to the latest Platts survey by S&P Global Commodity Insights, but remains shy of pre-pandemic levels with several members pumping massively below their quotas.
OPEC's 13 countries produced 29.75 million b/d, a rise of 190,000 b/d from August, while Russia and eight other allies added 13.26 million b/d, down 20,000 b/d.
The September performance was aided by sizable gains from Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Libya, which more than offset losses from long-struggling Angola and Nigeria, which hit their lowest in the 34-year history of the Platts survey.
As a result, the gap between the group's quotas and actual production remained a sizable 3.6 million b/d, roughly the same as in August, the survey found. Iran, Libya, and Venezuela are exempt from quotas.
The underperformance highlights the alliance's continued issues with dwindling spare capacity and the impact of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Russia, under harsh western sanctions that are set to ratchet up in December, is the biggest laggard to its quota, with its September production at 9.77 million b/d—about 1.26 million b/d below target.
Traditional buyers in sanctioning countries have cut imports from Russia. It has redirected some volumes to Asian markets including China and India but is unable to fully reroute these supplies.
Saudi Arabia, which co-chairs the OPEC+ alliance with Russia, pumped 11.02 million b/d, close to its quota and an increase of 100,000 b/d from August, supported by strong exports and ongoing high levels of crude burn.
West African struggles
Iraq managed an 80,000 b/d rise to hit 4.50 million b/d, despite an oil spill that shut down operations at a key export facility for a day, but with exports near maximum capacity at Iraq's southern terminals and storage facilities limited in space, the country's production upside may be limited.
Libya saw a 60,000 b/d recovery in output, as political tensions that led to the ouster of National Oil Corp. Chairman Mustafa Sanalla in July appear to have eased enough to allow oil operations at many blockaded fields to resume.
Among the OPEC+ members that saw production fall, Angola continues to be plagued by declining mature fields, with its September output declining by 40,000 b/d, according to the survey.
Nigeria saw another drop, as its September figure of 1.07 million b/d, compared to its quota of 1.83 million b/d, is the lowest it has recorded since the Platts survey began in 1988. The country's main export grades of Bonny Light, Forcados, and Brass River have been beset by pipeline sabotage, theft, and terminal outages.
Iran also suffered a modest fall in production, with demand for its grades weakened by Russia's discounting of its crudes to key customers in Asia.
More OPEC+ cuts
Looking ahead, the OPEC+ alliance intends to cut October quotas by a collective 100,000 b/d and then November targets by 2 million b/d, saying it is trying to be proactive against a potential global recession that could sap oil demand.
With the vast majority of members underproducing their quotas, S&P Global estimates that the actual November supply reduction will be around 780,000 b/d, mostly borne by Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
Risks around future sanctions could see Russian output cut even further in late 2022 and early 2023. These include EU restrictions on oil imports and shipping insurance, as well as a price cap on Russian crude proposed by the G7.
The Platts survey figures measure wellhead production, and are compiled using information from oil industry officials, traders, and analysts, as well as reviewing proprietary shipping, satellite, and inventory data.
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